Phase Discrimination of Uranium Oxides Esing Laser-induced Breakdown Spectroscopy

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Spectrochimica Acta - Part B Atomic Spectroscopy



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Nuclear forensics goals for characterizing samples of interest include qualitative and quantitative analysis of major and trace elements, isotopic analysis, phase identification, and physical analysis. These samples may include uranium oxides UO2, U3O8, and UO3, which play an important role in the front end of the nuclear fuel cycle, from mining to fuel fabrication. The focus of this study is to compare the ratios of the intensities of uranium and oxygen emission lines which can be used to distinguish between different uranium oxide materials using Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS). Measurements at varying laser powers were made under an argon atmosphere at 585 Torr to ensure the oxygen emission intensity was originating from the sample, and not from the atmosphere. Fifteen uranium emission lines were used to compare experimental results with theoretical calculations in order to determine the plasma conditions. Using a laser energy of 26 mJ, the uranium lines 591.539 and 682.692 nm provide the highest degree of discrimination between the uranium oxides. The study presented here suggests that LIBS is useful for discriminating uranium oxide phases, UO2, U3O8, and UO3. © 2017 Elsevier B.V.



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