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Wednesday, September 26, 2012
3:00 PM - 4:00 PM
TA-3, Bldg. 0207, Room 216, Jemez/Cochiti Rooms (Study Center)


Nuclear Forensic Science--Revealing Information Inherent to Nuclear Material for Nuclear Safeguards and Nuclear Security Applications

Klaus Mayer
European Commission Joint Research Centre, Institute for Transuranium Elements

The challenges in nuclear safeguards and in nuclear security have significantly changed over the last decades. On the one side nuclear safeguards evolved from the simple verification of declared amounts of material to a more information driven approach based on the verification of absence of undeclared nuclear material and undeclared nuclear activities. On the other side we are confronted with nuclear material out of regulatory control, such as material intercepted from illicit trafficking or contaminated scrap metal. Consequently, new sample types such as particle samples, environmental type materials, process materials or seized nuclear material need to be thoroughly analysed. Also the objectives of nuclear material analysis have changed and today measurement results need to offer information on the history of the material and on the consistency of measurable material properties (signatures) with declared processes and operations of a nuclear facility. The parameters to be investigated range from isotopic composition, microstructure, chemical impurities to decay products. This triggered the transfer of analytical techniques from the environmental area, from materials science or from the geological or cosmological area to the nuclear analytical community. The development and application of more investigative (radio-) analytical methodologies is required and more thorough, interpretative and comparative evaluation of results needs to be performed for providing the information requested. The discipline which makes use of these analytical techniques is referred to as nuclear forensic science. It aims at providing investigative leads to law enforcement and at providing clues on the origin and intended use of nuclear or other radioactive material involved in illicit incidents. It benefits from the wealth of information inherent to the material. Specific applications, possibly in combination with only minute amounts of sample call for methods of high sensitivity, low detection limits, high selectivity and high accuracy. The selection of the method or combination of methods is done according to the sample and according to the information required. These new analytical challenges and the response will be illustrated using examples from recent work at ITU.

Host: Hosted by the Information Science and Technology Institute (ISTI) and Chemistry Division (C)