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Mass Spectrometry of Long-Lived Radionuclides

Radiochemical Methods

  1. Johanna Sabine Becker,
  2. Hans-Joachim Dietze

Published Online: 15 SEP 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9780470027318.a6305.pub2

Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry

Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry

How to Cite

Sabine Becker, J. and Dietze, H.-J. 2012. Mass Spectrometry of Long-Lived Radionuclides . Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry. .

Author Information

  1. Central Division of Analytical Chemistry, Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 SEP 2012


Inorganic mass spectrometric methods are powerful multielement analytical techniques for sensitive determination at the trace and ultratrace level, and for isotope ratio measurements in different materials (e.g. conducting, semiconducting, and nonconducting solid samples; technical, environmental, biological, geological, and water samples). An inorganic mass spectrometer consists of the following parts: the ion source for the evaporation, atomization and ionization of samples, the analyzer for the mass (and energy) separation of ion beams which are extracted from the ion source, and the ion detection system. The detection limits of solid-state mass spectrometric techniques by thermal ionization mass spectrometry (TIMS), glow discharge mass spectrometry (GDMS), laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICPMS) for the direct analysis of solid samples were determined down to the subnanogram per gram level. Resonance ionization mass spectrometry (RIMS) and accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) are highly sensitive, selective ultrasensitive mass spectrometric techniques with detection limits up to 106 atoms.

Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICPMS) has been applied as the most important and sensitive mass spectrometric technique with its multielement capability for the determination of long-lived radionuclides in solid and aqueous samples, with detection limits at the subpicogram per liter range. Isotope ratios can be determined by ICPMS using single ion collectors and multicollectors with a precision of 0.02% and 0.006% relative standard deviation (RSD), respectively. This review discusses the most important inorganic mass spectrometric techniques and their application for the quantitative determination of long-lived radionuclides in metals, alloys, and nonconductors, as well as in environmental, biological, and geological samples, and radioactive waste materials. The application of these methods to isotope ratio measurements is also discussed.