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IAEA-CN-184/188 Use of OSL Methods for Safeguards Forensics Measurements M. Koskeloa, S. Kadnera, R. C.


Aquila Technologies, Division of MELE Associates, Albuquerque, NM Landauer Inc., Glenwood, IL USA

Abstract. The international and national oversight agencies strive to make sure that all nuclear material is safeguarded according to the various agreements and regulations. Part of the International Atomic Energy Agencys (IAEA) mission is to verify the correctness and completeness of the states declarations about their peaceful use of nuclear technology. Under the Additional Protocol, IAEA inspectors access rights include searching for undeclared nuclear facilities and activities. Some of the new tools to detect undeclared activities include luminescent processes including optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) and radiophotoluminescence (RPL). Radiation inherently deposits energy into surrounding material, trapping electrons in excited meta-stable states. These trapped electrons remain even when the radiation source is removed and can be released through optical stimulation or excitation at a later date. This radiation-induced charge storage and subsequent interrogation with light is explored in this paper for its usefulness as a powerful tool for detection of undeclared activities.

1. Introduction In nuclear security and nuclear safeguards there is a high degree of concern related to the illicit acquisition of radioactive or nuclear material by terrorist organizations. The law enforcement community and the nuclear security and safeguards agencies therefore have a desire to detect and attribute nuclear material before its potential misuse. Virtually all available radiation detection equipment for these oversight activities requires close proximity of the radiation detector to the physical location of the source to detect its presence. The simple act of moving a source will make it difficult to use such conventional methods. For example, the IAEA Inspectors may encounter a location disguised to appear as an ordinary office[1], but which has in fact previously been used for undeclared nuclear activities. One of the methods that offer potential to simplify solving this problem is the use of optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) techniques. OSL is commonly used to measure radiation dose in several other applications including geological and archeological dating, and retrospective and personnel dosimetry. However, since radiation inherently deposits energy into construction materials such as brick, tiles and porcelain these energy deposits can be released through optical stimulation and detected at a later date even if the source has already been removed. This has significant benefits for example for nuclear security and nuclear safeguards. At the present time, taking advantage of such characteristics of construction materials requires taking samples, sending them to a laboratory for an OSL measurement and other analyses, and obtaining the results days and weeks afterwards. There is clearly a need to improve the IAEAs ability to determine more conclusively in-situ if a suspected location was used previously for the storage of undeclared nuclear material[2].

The benefit of OSL is that it can also be applied in-situ to identify suspected sites where radiological or nuclear material has been stored even after the material has already been removed. The premise of OSL is that the prior presence of radioactive material in that room has inherently deposited energy into surrounding walls, trapping electrons in excited meta-stable states. These trapped electrons will remain after the removal of the radiation source and can be released through optical stimulation or excitation to permit detection at a later date. Therefore OSL can be used to detect the previous presence of radioactive materials and thereby contribute to the forensic analysis of past nuclear activities. Performing an in-situ measurement of the residual OSL signature of the wall, or walls has the potential to confirm the operational history of the room, or facility, or building space and thus confirm the undeclared activities, or the absence of undeclared activities[3]. Instruments that are able to measure the OSL signal in-situ are being developed and are expected to be available commercially shortly for safeguards scenarios [4,5]. The technique has successfully been applied to measure the radiation-induced charge in a variety of common building materials and household items[6]. It should be noted that for nuclear forensics in the safeguards context, it is sufficient to obtain an OSL signal that is significantly above natural background to be able to draw safeguards conclusions.

2. Principle of Forensic OSL Many ubiquitous materials retain an OSL signature long after irradiation. Therefore, an instrument capable of measuring this signal in the field will allow investigators to confirm the previous location of a radioactive source even when no trace of radiological contamination or other evidence remains. The material exhibiting OSL behavior accumulates the dose from radioactive material present by generating free electrons in its crystal structure and then trapping them when the radiation interacts with the OSL material. More electrons are created and trapped if the amount of radiation or radioactive material is increased. The electrons remain trapped until stimulated with light from a light emitting diode (LED). When a trapped electron absorbs the energy from the illuminating LED, it is freed from the trap to create luminescence light. The more trapped electrons, the more luminescence is created. Therefore, the amount of luminescence created by the stimulation is directly proportional to the absorbed radiation dose, the amount of radioactive material and/or the length that the radioactive material has been in the presence of the structural material that exhibits OSL behavior. The efficiency of the freed electrons to generate the luminescence is very high so only a few electrons need to be freed from the traps. The remaining trapped electrons can be stimulated at later times so that the dosimeter can be analyzed repeatedly. This process of stimulating and measuring the luminescence does not affect the OSL materials ability to continue to accumulate more radiation dose. As a result, the radiation exposure can be checked many times during an inspection to verify the reading. For a schematic of this process see Figure 1.

Figure 1. The principle of the OSL mechanism. The top figure shows the dose recording mechanism. The bottom figure shows the dose readout mechanism.

3. Field Readers for Safeguards Forensics In actual practice, the readout mechanisms for OSL materials involve one or more lasers or very bright LEDs and the associated light capture technology such as photomultiplier tubes and recording and storage electronics for record keeping and information management of the recorded doses, all in dedicated single purpose designs. The large scale throughput designs that are generally used by the manufacturers of the dosimetry badges often process many badges in parallel. Smaller scale designs also exist for smaller operations with typically a much smaller number of light sources and the ability to only read one badge at a time. A commercial laboratory desktop reader that reads one badge at a time is shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2. The Landauer microStar OSL dosimeter reader.

Aquila and Landauer have also developed a military grade field instrument for easy and robust dosimetry measurements by military personnel in battlefield conditions. The military OSL dosimeter reader is shown in Figure 3. For these military applications, an OSL dosimeter is built into a wrist watch form that is worn by a soldier and is read out in the field. Both reader types are specifically designed to open and read their respective badges automatically.

Figure 3. Military Grade Dosimetry Reader.

The reader in both cases provides an appropriate light source, a precision optical assembly to illuminate the dosimeter, a wide dynamic range PMT to sense the emitted light and detect the response, and associated signal processing, device control electronics, and data storage and transmission capabilities. We propose that with a suitable adapter, the same principle can be applied for in-situ measurements of the residual OSL signal in building and container materials in the safeguards context with a smart mobile phone. With the optomechanical attachment1 shown in Figure 4 and software, the mobile phone can be used as a means of in-situ measurements for nuclear security, nuclear safeguards and nuclear forensics. In Figure 4, the smart mobile phone is shown as the thin rectangular piece on the left attached to the larger optomechanical attachment. The large T in the top portion of the attachment is for mechanical stability and making a light tight seal during measurement. A separate tool is used to scrape off the top layer of building materials to make the measurement on layers that have not been exposed to ambient light and which therefore still

Patent Pending.

retain the OSL characteristics. The portion of the mechanism circled contains the optical prism and optical filter to select the appropriate wavelength to direct the light from the LED built into the phone towards the sample material and to select the wavelength to maximize the OSL material emission output from the sample and to maximize the emission back towards the camera of the smart phone. The associated phone software application lights up the LED and reads the resulting OSL emissions from the building materials. The GPS coordinates, and time of the readout will also be recorded and disseminated, if needed, based on the clock time of the phone.

Figure 4. A schematic of the optomechanical attachment to turn a smart phone into a field OSL reader. In the nuclear security, nuclear safeguards, nuclear forensics mode, the phone with this software application and optomechanical attachment can be placed against any material surface to get a read of the residual OSL signal. Where the immediate surface may have been bleached of the OSL signal due to ambient light conditions, the method can still be used by using removing the outermost layer to get at the material that has not been bleached by the ambient light conditions.

4. Conclusion The IAEAs mission includes not only verifying the correctness of the records concerning declared nuclear activities, but also detection of undeclared nuclear activities. The usual radiation detection equipment carried by the inspectors requires that it be placed in proximity to the radiation source to detect its presence. The simple act of moving a source will make it difficult to detect undeclared activity. Since the presence of radioactive materials inherently deposits energy into construction materials and since such energy deposits can be released and detected at a later date to detect the past presence of radioactive materials even if the source has already been removed, the use of OSL sampling for safeguards purposes has been proposed before. At the present time, this requires taking samples, sending them to a laboratory and obtaining the results days and weeks afterwards. In this paper, we have presented several concepts of performing such measurements in-situ thereby significantly speeding up the ability of the inspectors to make evaluations and draw safeguards conclusions.

5. References
[1] C. Annese, A. Monteith and J.Whichello, Novel Technologies for IAEA Safeguards, Presented at the JAEA-IAEA Workshop on Advanced Safeguards Technology for the Future Nuclear Fuel Cycle, Tokai, Japan, November 13-16, 2007. [2] C. Annese, et al., Safeguards Technology Meets New Challenges, Journal of Nuclear Materials Management Summer 2009, Volume XXXVII, No. 4, p. 49 [3] M. Zendel et al., Laser-based Techniques for IAEA Safeguards Detection and Verification Applications, Presented at the ESARDA Symposium on Safeguards and Nuclear Material Management, Aix en Provence, France, May 22-24, 2007. [4] M. Zendel, and M. Moeslinger, IAEA Safeguards Equipment, Presented at the Workshop on Advanced Sensors for Safeguards, Santa Fe, NM, April 23-27, 2007. [5] M. Zendel, IAEA Safeguards: Challenges in Detecting and Verifying Nuclear Materials and Activities, Presented at the TDLS conference in 2007. [6] L. Botter-Jensen and S.W.S. McKeever, Optically stimulated luminescence dosimetry using natural and synthetic materials, Radiat. Prot. Dosim., 65, 273280 (1996).