Elemental Analysis Facilities

The MIT-NRL is currently equipped for both delayed and prompt gamma neutron activation analysis (NAA). Delayed gamma NAA (or Instrumental NAA) techniques are often used in environmental health studies to evaluate the transport of air pollutants, mineral uptake in the body, aerosol formation, the role of aerosols in acid rain, and geochemical studies. In the past few years, the MIT-NRL’s NAA capability has been expanded for toxic trace element analysis in biological samples such as animal and human hair and tissue. The 1PH1 pneumatic tube can be set up so the irradiated sample is transferred automatically to the hot lab in an adjacent building for short irradiations (from a few seconds to a few minutes) for the analysis of short-lived isotopes. The NAA laboratory has three High Purity Germanium (HPGe) detectors, digital multi-channel analyzers, and the Genie 2000 gamma spectrum analysis system.

A Prompt Gamma Neutron Activation Analysis (PGNAA) facility is also available for trace element analysis. PGNAA was used primarily for the quantification of trace B-10 in blood for BNCT research. The PGNAA facility is normally installed at one of the MITR’s horizontal beam ports, 4DH3. The thermal neutron flux at the sample location is approximately 1.8x107 n/cm2 s. The PGNAA counting facility is equipped with a HPGe detector with a multichannel analyzer, and the Genie 2000 gamma spectrum analysis. 

MIT-NRL is also equipped with an Inductively Coupled Plasma - Optical Emission Spectrometer (ICP-OES) that is used to complement the NAA facilities. ICP-OES is a widely used multi-element analysis technique that offers good precision and speed and can be useful for elements that are not suitable for NAA or where interfering activities are present. The ICP-OES can be used for radioactive sample analysis and has been used for chemical analysis of in-pile loop coolant. Note that ICP-OES analysis requires that the sample be in aqueous solution or uniform suspension and that a standard is available with the matrix matched as closely as possible to the unknown.