Characterization of the Aerosol-Based Synthesis of Uranium Particles as a Potential Reference Material for Microanalytical Methods

Anal Chem. 2017 Apr 18;89(8):4721-4728. doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.7b00631. Epub 2017 Apr 6.


A process for production of micrometer-sized particles composed of uranium oxide using aerosol spray pyrolysis is characterized with respect to the various production parameters. The aerosol is generated using a vibrating orifice aerosol generator providing monodisperse droplets, which are oxidized in a subsequent heat treatment. The final particles are characterized with microanalytical methods to determine size, shape, internal morphology, and chemical and structural properties in order to assess the suitability of the produced particles as a reference material for microanalytical methods, in particular, for mass spectrometry. It is demonstrated that physicochemical processes during particle formation and the heat treatment to chemically transform particles into an oxide strongly influence the particle shape and the internal morphology. Synchrotron μ-X-ray based techniques combined with μ-Raman spectroscopy have been applied to demonstrate that the obtained microparticles consist of a triuranium octoxide phase. Our studies demonstrate that the process is capable of delivering spherical particles with determined uniform size and elemental as well as chemical composition. The particles therefore represent a suitable base material to fulfill the homogeneity and stability requirements of a reference material for microanalytical methods applied in, for example, international safeguards or nuclear forensics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't