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Nanoscale Spatially Resolved Mapping of Uranium Enrichment

[copyrighted, licensed under OPEN source:  Nature Research Scientific Reports]

Elizabeth Kautz, Douglas Burkes, Vineet Joshi, Curt Lavender & Arun Devaraj

“Spatially resolved analysis of uranium (U) isotopes in small volumes of actinide-bearing materials is critical for a variety of technical disciplines, including earth and planetary sciences, environmental monitoring, bioremediation, and the nuclear fuel cycle. However, achieving subnanometer-scale spatial resolution for such isotopic analysis is currently a challenge. By using atom probe tomography—a three-dimensional nanoscale characterisation technique—we demonstrate unprecedented nanoscale mapping of U isotopic enrichment with high sensitivity across various microstructural interfaces within small volumes (~100 nm3) of depleted and low-enriched U alloyed with 10 wt% molybdenum that has different nominal enrichments of 0.20 and 19.75% 235U, respectively. We map enrichment in various morphologies of a U carbide phase, the adjacent γ-UMo matrix, and across interfaces (e.g., carbide/ matrix, grain boundary). Results indicate the U carbides were formed during casting, rather than retained from either highly enriched or depleted U feedstock materials. the approach presented here can be applied to study nanoscale variations of isotopic abundances in the broad class of actinide- bearing materials, providing unique insights into their origins and thermomechanical processing routes…”

We provide a PNNL Full Article link to An Apt Approach to Enriched Uranium [Rebekah.Orton@pnnl.gov] , but do not try to make the whole article ours.  It does not belong to us. We only give you a flavour of it, so you can make up your own mind if you like and want to support the award-winning journalism behind it, like we do. Of course, we do not or could support all the points made in any article we highlight, but that is part of living in a democracy.  We believe the material is relevant to all and is necessary for their personal judgments.


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