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Selective fluorination and separation of metals with NF3 for mass spectrometry


We report recent progress on the development of a new methodology based on the generation of volatile metal fluorides through the use of nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) and the measurement of these metal fluorides by electron ionization mass spectrometry. Though unreactive under ambient conditions, NF3 reacts selectively at specified temperatures with various metal-containing species to form volatile metal fluorides. Utilizing these species-dependent traits, elements of a sample may be sequentially produced and thus separated on-line. Tellurium was reacted inside a thermogravimetric analyzer, the gas outlet of which was directly coupled to a quadrupole mass spectrometer with an electron impact ionization source.

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This research funded by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) utilizing Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) funds. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is operated by Battelle Memorial Institute for the United States Department of Energy under DOE Contract Number DE-AC05-76RL1830. This research was performed under the Nuclear Forensics Postdoctoral Fellowship Program, which is sponsored by the US Department of Homeland Security, Domestic Nuclear Detection Office and the US Department of Defense, Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

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Correspondence to Richard A. Clark.

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Clark, R.A., Barinaga, C.J., McNamara, B.K. et al. Selective fluorination and separation of metals with NF3 for mass spectrometry. J Radioanal Nucl Chem 307, 1587–1590 (2016).

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  • Mass spectrometry
  • Fluorination
  • Nitrogen trifluoride
  • Nuclear forensics