Optical Radiopurity Material Measurements

Physical Sciences Inc. (PSI), has been awarded a contract from the Department of Energy (DOE) to develop a laser-based magneto-optical atomic polarization spectroscopy technique that is capable of quantifying Uranium-238 (U), Thorium-232 (Th), and Potassium (K) in clean materials – the dominant primordial isotopes contributing to a radiation background in underground rare-event nuclear physics experiments.

DOE seeks to develop a laser based diagnostic to quantify radioactive impurities present in clean materials at radiation levels of ultra-clean materials (< 1 µBq/kg). PSI’s diagnostic will address the need for an analytical instrument to screen clean/radiopure materials incorporated into rare-event nuclear physics experiments for U, Th, and K. Existing radioassays suffer from long measurement times or matrix interference effects that limit achievable detection limits, or complicate the analysis on a material-by-material basis.

PSI’s technology can be broadly applied to monitoring soil and water for metals contamination. The technology is particularly relevant for water monitoring applications of metals such as mercury, lead, arsenic, cadmium, and manganese that represent a risk to public health. The technology will have sufficient limits of detection to monitor the aforementioned elements below the maximum permissible exposure limits in real time field measurements.

For more information, contact:

Dr. David Oakes
Group Leader, Aero Thermal Signatures
Physical Sciences Inc.
Telephone: (978) 689-0003