Radioactive isotopes and their decay can be used as chronometers for environmental processes. The time scale for these clocks is set by the half-life of the respective radioisotope. Accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) is a sensitive technique to directly count miniscule amounts of long-lived radionuclides, applying an accelerator, electromagnetic filters and particle detectors. Typically, ratios of the radio-nuclide of interest to a stable isotope of the same element are measured.
Among other nuclides at the ANU we are aiming to develop accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) for the long-lived, challenging radioisotope Samarium-146 with a half-life of ~100 Myr which together with its decay product Neodymium-142 is well suited to study the chronology of the Early Solar System. Further, it might be used as a tracer for supernovae and for radiometric dating.
This project offers possibilities to work on the production and determination of reference materials for AMS of Samarium. It will involve neutron irradiations and gamma spectrometry of potential reference material, and ion source and particle detector investigations using the tandem accelerator at ANU.