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Title: LA-ICP/MS Analysis of Plastics as a Method to Support Polymer Assay in the Assessment of Materials for Low Background Detectors

Abstract

Ultra low-background radiation measurements are essential to several large-scale physics investigations, such as those involving neutrinoless double-beta decay, dark matter detection (such as SuperCDMS), and solar neutrino detection. There is a need for electrically and thermally insulating dielectric materials with extremely low-background radioactivity for detector construction. This need is best met with plastics. Most currently available structural plastics have milliBecquerel-per-kilogram total intrinsic radioactivity. Modern low-level detection systems require a large variety of plastics with low microBecquerel-per-kilogram levels. However, the assay of polymer materials for extremely low levels of radioactive elements, uranium and thorium in particular, presents new challenges. It is only recently that any certified reference materials (CRMs) for toxic metals such as lead or cadmium in plastics have become available. However, there are no CRMs for uranium or thorium in thermoplastics. This paper discusses our assessment of the use of laser ablation (LA) for sampling and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) for analysis of polyethylene (PE) samples, with an emphasis on uranium determination. Using a CRM for lead in PE, we examine LA and ICP-MS parameters that determine whether the total atom efficiencies for uranium and lead are similar, and explore methods to use the lead content inmore » a plastic as part of the process of estimating or determining the uranium content by LA-ICP-MS.« less

Authors:
; ; ; ;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1242336
Report Number(s):
PNNL-SA-109615
Journal ID: ISSN 0236-5731
DOE Contract Number:
AC05-76RL01830
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry; Journal Volume: 307; Journal Issue: 3
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
laser ablation

Citation Formats

Grate, Jay W., Bliss, Mary, Farmer, Orville T., Thomas, Linda MP, and Liezers, Martin. LA-ICP/MS Analysis of Plastics as a Method to Support Polymer Assay in the Assessment of Materials for Low Background Detectors. United States: N. p., 2016. Web. doi:10.1007/s10967-015-4600-9.
Grate, Jay W., Bliss, Mary, Farmer, Orville T., Thomas, Linda MP, & Liezers, Martin. LA-ICP/MS Analysis of Plastics as a Method to Support Polymer Assay in the Assessment of Materials for Low Background Detectors. United States. doi:10.1007/s10967-015-4600-9.
Grate, Jay W., Bliss, Mary, Farmer, Orville T., Thomas, Linda MP, and Liezers, Martin. Sat . "LA-ICP/MS Analysis of Plastics as a Method to Support Polymer Assay in the Assessment of Materials for Low Background Detectors". United States. doi:10.1007/s10967-015-4600-9.
@article{osti_1242336,
title = {LA-ICP/MS Analysis of Plastics as a Method to Support Polymer Assay in the Assessment of Materials for Low Background Detectors},
author = {Grate, Jay W. and Bliss, Mary and Farmer, Orville T. and Thomas, Linda MP and Liezers, Martin},
abstractNote = {Ultra low-background radiation measurements are essential to several large-scale physics investigations, such as those involving neutrinoless double-beta decay, dark matter detection (such as SuperCDMS), and solar neutrino detection. There is a need for electrically and thermally insulating dielectric materials with extremely low-background radioactivity for detector construction. This need is best met with plastics. Most currently available structural plastics have milliBecquerel-per-kilogram total intrinsic radioactivity. Modern low-level detection systems require a large variety of plastics with low microBecquerel-per-kilogram levels. However, the assay of polymer materials for extremely low levels of radioactive elements, uranium and thorium in particular, presents new challenges. It is only recently that any certified reference materials (CRMs) for toxic metals such as lead or cadmium in plastics have become available. However, there are no CRMs for uranium or thorium in thermoplastics. This paper discusses our assessment of the use of laser ablation (LA) for sampling and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) for analysis of polyethylene (PE) samples, with an emphasis on uranium determination. Using a CRM for lead in PE, we examine LA and ICP-MS parameters that determine whether the total atom efficiencies for uranium and lead are similar, and explore methods to use the lead content in a plastic as part of the process of estimating or determining the uranium content by LA-ICP-MS.},
doi = {10.1007/s10967-015-4600-9},
journal = {Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry},
number = 3,
volume = 307,
place = {United States},
year = {Sat Mar 12 00:00:00 EST 2016},
month = {Sat Mar 12 00:00:00 EST 2016}
}
  • An increasing number of physics experiments require low background materials for their construction. The presence of Uranium and Thorium and their progeny in these materials present a variety of unwanted background sources for these experiments. The sensitivity of the experiments continues to drive the necessary levels of detection ever lower as well. This requirement for greater sensitivity has rendered direct radioassay impractical in many cases requiring large quantities of material, frequently many kilograms, and prolonged counting times, often months. Other assay techniques have been employed such as Neutron Activation Analysis but this requires access to expensive facilities and instrumentation andmore » can be further complicated and delayed by the formation of unwanted radionuclides. Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) is a useful tool and recent advancements have increased the sensitivity particularly in the elemental high mass range of U and Th. Unlike direct radioassay, ICP-MS is a destructive technique since it requires the sample to be in liquid form which is aspirated into a high temperature plasma. But it benefits in that it usually requires a very small sample, typically about a gram. This paper discusses how a variety of low background materials such as copper, polymers, and fused silica are made amenable to ICP-MS assay and how the arduous task of maintaining low backgrounds of U and Th is achieved.« less
  • A method for the separation and determination of total and isotopic uranium and plutonium by ICP-MS was developed for IAEA samples on cellulose-based media. Preparation of the IAEA samples involved a series of redox chemistries and separations using TRU┬« resin (Eichrom). The sample introduction system, an APEX nebulizer (Elemental Scientific, Inc), provided enhanced nebulization for a several-fold increase in sensitivity and reduction in background. Application of mass bias (ALPHA) correction factors greatly improved the precision of the data. By combining the enhancements of chemical separation, instrumentation and data processing, detection levels for uranium and plutonium approached high attogram levels.
  • An increasing number of physics experiments require low background materials for their construction. The presence of Uranium and Thorium and their progeny in these materials present a variety of unwanted background sources for these experiments. The sensitivity of the experiments continues to drive the necessary levels of detection ever lower as well. This requirement for greater sensitivity has rendered direct radioassay impractical in many cases requiring large quantities of material, frequently many kilograms, and prolonged counting times, often months. Other assay techniques have been employed such as Neutron Activation Analysis but this requires access to expensive facilities and instrumentation andmore » can be further complicated and delayed by the formation of unwanted radionuclides. Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) is a useful tool and recent advancements have increased the sensitivity particularly in the elemental high mass range of U and Th. Unlike direct radioassay, ICP-MS is a destructive technique since it requires the sample to be in liquid form which is aspirated into a high temperature plasma. But it benefits in that it usually requires a very small sample, typically about a gram. Here we will discuss how a variety of low background materials such as copper, polymers, and fused silica are made amenable to ICP-MS assay and how the arduous task of maintaining low backgrounds of U and Th is achieved.« less
  • Both laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) and laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) are well-established analytical techniques with their own unique advantages and disadvantages. The combination of the two analytical methods is a very promising way to overcome the challenges faced by each method individually. We made a comprehensive comparison of local plasma conditions between nanosecond (ns) and femtosecond (fs) laser ablation (LA) sources in a combined LIBS and LA-ICP-MS system. The optical emission spectra and ICP-MS signal were recorded simultaneously for both ns- and fs-LA and figures of merit of the system were analyzed. Characterization of the plasma was conductedmore » by evaluating temperature and density of the plume under various irradiation conditions using optical emission spectroscopy, and correlations to ns- and fs-LIBS and LA-ICP-MS signal were made. The present study is very useful for providing conditions for a multimodal system as well as giving insight into how laser ablation plume parameters are related to LA-ICP-MS and LIBS results for both ns- and fs-LA.« less