Multi-elemental Gd, Eu, Sm, Nd isotope ratio measurements by liquid chromatography coupled to MC-ICPMS with variable Faraday cup configurations during elution.

PMID 27837830


The high-precision isotopic characterization of actinides and fission products in nuclear samples is fundamental for various applications such as the management of spent nuclear fuel or the validation of neutronic calculation codes. However multi-elemental isotope ratio measurements by mass spectrometric techniques are hampered by the presence of both spectral and non-spectral interferences as complex sample matrices are encountered in such topics, but also due to the lack of high precision mass spectrometers able to cover the entire mass spectrum. This work describes a new LC-MC-ICPMS approach allowing simultaneous high-precision and multi-elemental isotope ratio measurements of four fission products of interest for nuclear issues (Nd, Sm, Eu, Gd) within a single elution run. Variable motorized Faraday cup configurations were successively used during a specifically designed elution procedure in order to take into account the non-natural Nd, Sm, Eu, Gd isotopic compositions encountered in irradiated nuclear samples. This new method, involving the relevant isotopic reference standard injection timings for on-line mass bias corrections, was validated by the analysis of a simulated fission product fraction from a (235)U-irradiated target. Reproducibilities better than 2‰ (k=2), comparable to those obtained by off-line measurements and the classic sample-standard bracketing mass bias correction approach, were obtained for all isotope ratios, except those involving isotopes with a transient signal peak apex lower than 100mV, for which the reproducibilities were comprised between 2‰ and 6‰.

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