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Particle Research

Figure 2. Left: SEM image showing a hot particle after that a SIMS depth profile accusation has taken place (squared crater on the particle). Middle a U and Pu elemental map of the same particle derived by synchrotron µ-XRF. Right: the comparison of the SIMS depth profile and the µ-XRF data show a good agreement with lower U/Pu ratio on the particle surface.

A full assessment of the consequences of accidental pollution releases to the environment require, amongst others, the study of the association of pollutants to particles and its distribution within them. This is especially true when the contamination is caused by the release of nuclear material to the environment, where most of the activity is bound to large sized particles (also called “hot particles”), as for example in the case of the Chernobyl, Thule and Palomares accidents.

Figure 1.: Sample change at the µ-XRF beam-line at ANKA synchrotron light facility in Karlsruhe- Germany

RML develops methods to study hot particles in the marine environment, focused on the separation, identification and physicochemical characterisation of the particles. This permits to better understand the geochemical behaviour of the pollutant and provides key information for dose assessment. These studies involve large scale facilities such as synchrotron light sources located in Hamburg and Karlsruhe in Germany (HASYLAB and ANKA).