The objective of this paper is to describe nuclear forensics material characterization, as conducted in the Israeli National Nuclear Forensic Laboratory (INNFL) during an international exercise Collaborative Material Exercise 6 (CMX6) organized by the Nuclear Forensics international technical working group (ITWG). The characterized materials are uranium and cerium metal ingots. The goal was characterization of physical parameters, elemental and isotopic composition, morphology and chemical composition of the surface. Electron microscopy and Raman spectroscopy techniques were combined for morphological, structural and elemental study of the surface. The information from these analyses was used to answer the exercise questions, comparing the materials (labeled ES-1 and ES-2) to each other and to other samples described in the scenario. The INNFL investigation identified a connection between ES-1 and ES-2 based on several indicators, including the isotopic composition of the uranium present in both samples, as well as other surface contaminations, mainly yttria and graphite. Based on these finding the INNFL established a connection between ES-1 and ES-2 to ES-3B (theoretical sample with uranium traces) and has not established a connection to ES-3A (theoretical sample of plutonium powder). ES1 and ES-2 have been suggestively connected to their theoretical source, by their isotopic ratio. The INNFL conclusion was that the theoretical source materials (oxide and fluoride) were converted into the actual materials.
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The authors would like to thank the ITWG organization for their significant efforts in creating the CMX6 exercise, which was a great learning experience for our laboratory.
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- Metallic uranium, metallic cerium
- Nuclear forensics
- Surface morphology
- Uranium Isotopic Composition