During rapid high-temperature events, like a terrorist attack with radiological dispersal device, radiological material will be released into the environment. In these scenarios, the ratio between parent and daughter nuclides can be used for nuclear forensic investigations to determine the age of the used radioactive source. We have used fast laser heating to produce aerosols of a material often found in radioisotope thermoelectric generators. To investigate the behaviour of SrTiO3, we have recreated pure and mixed samples, mimicking several parent-to-daughter ratios. By combining scanning electron microscopy and energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy analysis with Raman spectroscopy, we were able to distinguish different elements and phases present in the aerosols. Two types of aerosols have been identified: individual aerosols from a few micrometre to a few tens of micrometre and agglomerates of smaller aerosols from a few hundred nanometre to a few micrometre. The bigger aerosols, formed from mechanically expelled liquefied material, showed a parent-to-daughter ratio that stays close to the value that would be anticipated by the initial composition of the material, but in the agglomerates, formed from vaporised material, the presence of the daughter elements reduces significantly due to differences in the condensation behaviour.
- aerosol characterisation
- nuclear forensics
- radiological dispersal device
- Raman spectroscopy
- strontium titanate