What’s that yellow powder? A nuclear forensic case study

  • Ning XuEmail author
  • Christopher Worley
  • Jung Rim
  • Michael Rearick
  • Dana Labotka
  • Lance Green
  • Randy Walker


In this paper the utilization of three analytical chemistry techniques including gamma spectrometry, XRF, and ICP-MS/OES is described for performing nuclear forensic analyses on an unknown powder. We have demonstrated that each method was unique in providing specific material characteristics, yet they were also complementary for extracting useful nuclear forensic signatures. It is the integral effort of all three analytical chemistry tools in the nuclear forensic tool box that ultimately allowed us to reveal the identity of the unknown nuclear material as Nb2O5 mixed with ~ 9% HEU.


Nuclear forensics HEU Niobium Gamma spectrometry XRF 



The authors thank the United States Department of Energy and National Nuclear Security Agency for founding. The authors are especially grateful for the critical discussions with Andrew Nelson at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. This publication is LA-UR-18-21732.


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ning Xu
    • 1
    Email author
  • Christopher Worley
    • 1
  • Jung Rim
    • 1
  • Michael Rearick
    • 1
  • Dana Labotka
    • 1
  • Lance Green
    • 1
  • Randy Walker
    • 1
  1. 1.Los Alamos National LaboratoryLos AlamosUSA

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