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Instrumental Neutron Activation Analysis (INAA)

This method involves bombarding a sample with neutrons by placing it in a nuclear reactor. The neutrons interact with atoms in the sample to create new, radioactive isotopes. By measuring the gamma rays released when these isotopes decay it is possible to determine which elements are present, and their concentrations. Samples are usually measured twice, with about six weeks between measurements, in order to measure isotopes with widely differing half-lives.

Sensitivity varies dramatically from one element to the next with some elements detectable down to parts per billion levels, whereas others cannot be detected at all.

Neutron activation is generally most useful for trace elements such as the rare earths, the platinum group elements, and other heavy elements. Most samples are analyzed using about 0.2 g of powdered material but the platinum group elements require preconcentration using much larger sample weights.

The main advantages of neutron activation are simple sample preparation, freedom from matrix effects and unmatched long-term instrument stability.

Costs range from $15-$30 per hour for research samples to $30-$60 per hour for commercial samples.

Note: An ES Analytical Service Job Request can be downloaded in PDF format. This form must be filled out completely and signed when submitting your work request.

You will need Adobe’s Acrobat Reader® to open the job request form. You may download it, at no charge, from Adobe Systems.

INAA Availability:

Contact Dr. M. Gorton
Tel (416) 946-5309
Fax (416) 978-3938
Email: gorton@es.utoronto.ca