Fabrication and characterization of surrogate glasses aimed to validate nuclear forensic techniques
Foos, Ken G.
Luhrs, Claudia C.
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The aim of this study was the fabrication and characterization of surrogate glasses to support validation of a nuclear forensic technique called Laser-Driven Hydrothermal Processing (LDHP). Previous examination of inhomogeneous natural materials obsidian and tektite confirmed potential benefits of the LDHP technique with regard to separation of elements of interest from the bulk silica structure during processing. However, natural materials are too inhomogeneous, making it difficult to clearly determine which features were present in the sample before LDHP and which were caused by it. In this study, the sol-gel process involving acid or base catalysts was used as the fabrication method. The average elemental composition of tektite served as the target composition for surrogate material. Fe and Ti were introduced in solution as a salt and an alkoxide, respectively, to represent the presence of transition elements since no radioactive materials were used. Precursors for the remaining elemental components were then added to form the sol. Through variations in the hydrolysis, polymerization, drying and dehydration steps, the successful fabrication of xerogel products sharing the elemental composition of tektite but presenting a more homogeneous distribution of phases was achieved. Specimens like the ones produced herein, with greater homogeneity, will be more suitable to quantify the effects of applying novel forensic techniques such as LDHP.
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