Neutron Activation Analysis

Neutron activation analysis (NAA) is a nuclear technique in which a sample is bombarded with neutrons to produce radioactive isotopes with distinct decay patterns. It is useful for performing bulk qualitative and quantitative multi-element analysis of major, minor, and trace elements in samples. For many elements and applications, NAA offers sensitivities that are superior to those attainable by other methods, on the order of parts per billion or better. In addition, because of its accuracy and reliability, NAA is generally recognized as the "referee method" of choice when new procedures are being developed or when other methods yield results that do not agree.

Technical Overview
Legends of Nuclear Archaeometry
The Fate of a Sherd during Sample Preparation
Sample Submission & Rates

Burring the surface of a pottery sherd
Grinding a sherd in an agate mortar
Weighing powdered samples on an analytical balance
A prepared ceramic sample ready for short (right) and long (left) irradiations
MURR's 10MW reactor pool
Sending samples into the reactor via pneumatic tube
Collecting data from the "short" 5-sec irradiation
Automatic sample changer that collects data from the "long" 24-hr irradiation
Gamma ray spectra, zoomed-in on Zn-65 at 1115.5 keV
Diagram showing the basics of neutron activation