Accelerator mass spectrometry of strontium-90 for homeland security, environmental monitoring and human health

Scott J. Tumey, Thomas A. Brown, Terry E. Hamilton, Darren J. Hillegonds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Strontium-90 is one of the most hazardous materials managed by agencies charged with protecting the public from radiation. Traditional radiometric methods have been limited by low sample throughput and slow turnaround times. Mass spectrometry offers the advantage of shorter analysis times and the ability to measure samples immediately after processing, however conventional mass spectrometric techniques are susceptible to molecular isobaric interferences that limit their overall sensitivity. In contrast, accelerator mass spectrometry is insensitive to molecular interferences and we have therefore begun developing a method for determination of 90Sr by accelerator mass spectrometry. Despite a pervasive interference from 90Zr, our initial development has yielded an instrumental background of ∼108 atoms (75 mBq) per sample. Further refinement of our system (e.g. redesign of our detector, use of alternative target materials) is expected to push the background below 106 atoms, close to the theoretical limit for AMS. Once we have refined our system and developed suitable sample preparation protocols, we will utilize our capability in applications to homeland security, environmental monitoring and human health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2242-2245
Number of pages4
JournalNuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research, Section B: Beam Interactions with Materials and Atoms
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • AMS
  • Environmental monitoring
  • Sr-90

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Instrumentation
  • Surfaces and Interfaces


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