Radiation and Environmental Biophysics

, Volume 46, Issue 4, pp 327–338 | Cite as

Neutron-induced 63Ni in copper samples from Hiroshima and Nagasaki: a comprehensive presentation of results obtained at the Munich Maier-Leibnitz Laboratory

  • W. RühmEmail author
  • K. L. Carroll
  • S. D. Egbert
  • T. Faestermann
  • K. Knie
  • G. Korschinek
  • R. E. Martinelli
  • A. A. Marchetti
  • J. E. McAninch
  • G. Rugel
  • T. Straume
  • A. Wallner
  • C. Wallner
  • S. Fujita
  • H. Hasai
  • M. Hoshi
  • K. Shizuma
Original Paper


Those inhabitants of Hiroshima and Nagasaki who were affected by the A-bomb explosions, were exposed to a mixed neutron and gamma radiation field. Few years later about 120,000 survivors of both cities were selected, and since then radiation-induced late effects such as leukemia and solid tumors are being investigated in this cohort. When the present study was initiated, the fast neutron fluences that caused the neutron doses of these survivors had never been determined experimentally. In principle, this would have been possible if radioisotopes produced by fast neutrons from the A-bomb explosions had been detected in samples from Hiroshima and Nagasaki at distances where the inhabitants survived. However, no suitable radioisotope had so far been identified. As a contribution to a large international effort to re-evaluate the A-bomb dosimetry, the concentration of the radionuclide 63Ni (half-life 100.1 years) has been measured in copper samples from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These measurements were mainly performed at the Maier-Leibnitz-Laboratory in Munich, Germany, by means of accelerator mass spectrometry. Because the 63Ni had been produced in these samples by fast A-bomb neutrons via the reaction 63Cu(n,p)63Ni, these measurements allow direct experimental validation of calculated neutron doses to the members of the LSS cohort, for the first time. The results of these efforts have already been published in a compact form. A more detailed discussion of the methodical aspects of these measurements and their results are given in the present paper. Eight copper samples that had been significantly exposed to fast neutrons from the Hiroshima A-bomb explosion were investigated. In general, measured 63Ni concentrations decreased in these samples with increasing distance to the hypocenter, from 4 × 106 63Ni nuclei per gram copper at 391 m, to about 1 × 105 63Ni nuclei per gram copper at about 1,400 m. Additional measurements performed on three large-distant copper samples from Hiroshima (distance to the hypocenter 1,880–7,500 m) and on three large-distant copper samples from Nagasaki (distance to the hypocenter 3,931–4,428 m) that were not exposed significantly to A-bomb neutrons, suggest a typical background concentration of about 8 × 104 63Ni nuclei per gram copper. If the observed background is accounted for, the results are consistent with state-of-the-art neutron transport calculations for Hiroshima, in particular for those distances where the victims survived and were included in the life span study cohort.


Fast Neutron Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Copper Sample Neutron Dose 63Ni Nucleus 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors would like to thank A.M. Kellerer for his essential support of this project. This work was supported by the German Federal Ministry of Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety under contracts StSch 4235 and StSch 4267, and by the European Commission under contract FIGD-CT2000-0079. One of us (G.R.) would like to thank the Bavarian Government for a grant. Part of this work was performed under the auspices of the US Department of Energy by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory under contract W-7405-Eng-48, and by a grant to the University of Utah (T. Straume) from the US Department of Energy (#DE-FG03-00ER62963).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. Rühm
    • 1
    • 6
    Email author
  • K. L. Carroll
    • 2
  • S. D. Egbert
    • 3
  • T. Faestermann
    • 4
  • K. Knie
    • 4
  • G. Korschinek
    • 4
  • R. E. Martinelli
    • 2
  • A. A. Marchetti
    • 2
  • J. E. McAninch
    • 2
  • G. Rugel
    • 4
    • 6
  • T. Straume
    • 5
  • A. Wallner
    • 4
    • 6
  • C. Wallner
    • 4
  • S. Fujita
    • 7
  • H. Hasai
    • 8
  • M. Hoshi
    • 9
  • K. Shizuma
    • 10
  1. 1.Institute for Radiation ProtectionGSF National Research Center for Environment and HealthNeuherbergGermany
  2. 2.Lawrence Livermore National LaboratoryLivermoreUSA
  3. 3.Science Applications International CorporationSan DiegoUSA
  4. 4.Fakultät für PhysikTechnische Universität MünchenGarchingGermany
  5. 5.University of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  6. 6.Radiobiological InstituteUniversität MünchenMunichGermany
  7. 7.Department of StatisticsRadiation Effects Research FoundationHiroshimaJapan
  8. 8.Hiroshima Kokusai Gakuin UniversityHiroshimaJapan
  9. 9.International Radiation Information Center, Research Institute for Radiation, Biology and MedicineHiroshima UniversityHiroshimaJapan
  10. 10.Quantum Energy Applications, Graduate School of EngineeringHiroshima UniversityHigashi-HiroshimaJapan

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