, Volume 282, Issue 3, pp 923-928
Date: 26 Sep 2009

Characterization of sealed radioactive sources: uncertainty analysis to improve detection methods

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Abstract

A radioactive 137Cs source has been analyzed for the radioactive parent 137Cs and stable decay daughter 137Ba. The ratio of the daughter to parent atoms is used to estimate the date when Cs was purified prior to source encapsulation (an “age” since purification). The isotopes were analyzed by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) after chemical separation. In addition, Ba was analyzed by isotope dilution ICP-MS (ID-ICP-MS). A detailed error analysis of the mass spectrometric work has been undertaken to identify areas of improvement, as well as quantifying the effect the errors have on the “age” determined. This paper reports an uncertainty analysis to identifying areas of improvement and alternative techniques that may reduce the uncertainties. In particular, work on isotope dilution using ICP-MS for the “age” determination of sealed sources is presented. The results will be compared to the original work done using external standards to calibrate the ICP-MS instrument.