Neutron Activation Procedures for Silver Analysis in Precipitation

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  • 1 Desert Research Institute, University of Nevada, Reno
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Abstract

Laboratory techniques have been developed for concentrating and isolating silver from aqueous samples. When these concentrated samples are activated in a thermal neutron flux of 4 × 1012n cm−2 sec−1, quantitative measurements down to 10−9 gm masses of silver can be made. When 1-liter samples of water are used, the lower limit of detection of silver in the sample is about 3 × 10−12 gm cm−3 concentration. Typical Ag concentrations being observed in snow collected in the western United States range from this lower limit to 10−8 gm cm−3, the majority being between 10−9 and 10−11. The lower limit does not therefore appear to be a serious factor in silver determinations in snow collected at ground stations. The system described is a non-destructive one, the accuracy of measurement using γ-ray spectrometry being 1, 2, 10 and 80% for masses of silver 10−6, 10−7, 10−8 and 10−9 gm, respectively. By using a 24-sec half-life radioisotope for the Ag determination, the cost of activation and turn-around time on samples is kept to a minimum. Data analysis is computerized and rapid.

Abstract

Laboratory techniques have been developed for concentrating and isolating silver from aqueous samples. When these concentrated samples are activated in a thermal neutron flux of 4 × 1012n cm−2 sec−1, quantitative measurements down to 10−9 gm masses of silver can be made. When 1-liter samples of water are used, the lower limit of detection of silver in the sample is about 3 × 10−12 gm cm−3 concentration. Typical Ag concentrations being observed in snow collected in the western United States range from this lower limit to 10−8 gm cm−3, the majority being between 10−9 and 10−11. The lower limit does not therefore appear to be a serious factor in silver determinations in snow collected at ground stations. The system described is a non-destructive one, the accuracy of measurement using γ-ray spectrometry being 1, 2, 10 and 80% for masses of silver 10−6, 10−7, 10−8 and 10−9 gm, respectively. By using a 24-sec half-life radioisotope for the Ag determination, the cost of activation and turn-around time on samples is kept to a minimum. Data analysis is computerized and rapid.

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