Graduate Research and Discovery Symposium (GRADS)


Polymer Sensors for the Quantification of Waterborne Uranium

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2015


Clandestine activities involving the separation, concentration or manipulation of special nuclear material for the express purpose of developing a weapon of mass destruction is likely to result in the contamination of environmental water sources. The capability to conduct isotopic analyses for waterborne special nuclear material, like uranium, would be a powerful nuclear forensics tool. Despite widespread interest, there currently is no on-line or field-able measurement system available for low-level quantification of uranium in aqueous solutions. A recent development in environmental sensing is a portable, flow cell detector that utilizes extractive scintillating (ES) resin. The ES resin serves the dual purpose of (1) concentrating the radionuclide of interest and (2) serving as a radiation transducer. Currently, such resins are produced by physically absorbing organic extractants and fluors into a polymer matrix. Unfortunately, this approach yields resins with poor stability as the active components leach from the resin over time. This contribution describes our work to increase resin stability by synthesizing ES resin in which the active components are bound covalently within the polymer matrix. The extraction and fluorescence properties of the resin were studied separately before the resin was applied in flow cell detector where detection efficiencies of 40% were achieved.

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