NE Seminar: “Coupling Radioelement Speciation with Forensics Signatures”


1:55 pm-2:55 pm
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Ken Czerwinski, Ph.D.

Dr. Ken Cserwinski has performed radiochemistry research since 1986 and had his first professor position in 1996.  He obtained his Ph.D. in the chemistry of Rutherfordium from the University of California, Berkeley in 1992.  He was the first director of the Radiochemistry Ph.D. program at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and is currently a full professor of radiochemistry at the university.

Professor Czerwinski has developed courses on nuclear waste management, nuclear separations, radiochemistry, radiopharmaceuticals, and nuclear forensics.  His experimental efforts focus on evaluating the chemical forms and molecular structure of compounds containing radioelements in liquid and solid phases.  All research is tightly coupled to the education and training of students in laboratory studies of radioelements, a focus area of the Czerwinski research group. 

Professor Czerwinski currently consults for industry, international entities, and the federal government on areas associated with the use and application of radioelements. He has received multiple grants from the DOE, NNSA, NSF, and industry during his academic career and has over 200 peer-reviewed publications and patents.


There is a clear desire to improve signature identification for nuclear forensics.  A useful approach involves the incorporation of radioelement and radionuclide speciation.  Identifying the radionuclide chemical form can be used in different aspects of nuclear forensics.  Exploiting the speciation of targeted radionuclides in samples can aid in separations, decreasing the time needed for isotope evaluation. For analysis, molecular nuclear forensics has been shown to provide useful information on material of interest.  Both these improvements leverage radionuclide speciation in improving forensic analysis.  Molecular nuclear forensics provides signatures based on chemical speciation, structure, morphology, and trace composition.  As actinide materials are processed for nuclear applications, potential signatures exist that can provide data on origin, separation dates, and chemical treatment.

In the presentation, examples are provided for plutonium-containing particles and uranium oxides.  The use of spectroscopy and microscopy analysis is used to demonstrate the utility of molecular nuclear forensics science in identifying signatures.  Microscopy analysis revealed information on the origin of the actinide material.  Morphological features provide insight into process conditions for material synthesis.  Synchrotron spectroscopy gave information on speciation and element correlation.  The results are used to provide a means in assessing material to provide forensics signatures, linking material characterization techniques for the nuclear fuel cycle with forensic applications.


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Materials Science & Engineering Dept.