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Bk and Cf chromatographic separation and $^{249}$Bk/$^{248}$Cm and $^{249}$Cf/$^{248}$Cm elemental ratios determination by inductively coupled plasma quadrupole mass spectrometry

Abstract : The French Atomic Energy Commission has carried out several experiments for the study of minor-actinide transmutation processes in high intensity thermal neutron flux. In this context a Cm sample enriched in $^{248}$Cm (∼97%) was irradiated in a thermal neutron flux at the High Flux Reactor (HFR) of the Laue–Langevin Institute (ILL). The precise and accurate determination of Cf isotope ratios and of $^{249}$Bk/$^{248}$Cm and $^{249}$Cf/$^{248}$Cm elemental ratios in the 248Cm irradiated sample is crucial for the calculation of actinide neutron capture cross-sections. This work describes an analytical procedure for the separation and the isotope ratio measurement of Bk and Cf in the irradiated sample. The Bk and Cf separation is based on a lanthanides separation protocol previously developed by the laboratory. Well-defined retention times for Bk and Cf were obtained by coupling the Ionic Chromatography (IC) with an ICP-QMS. All conditions of element separation by IC and the different steps of the analytical protocol in order to obtain the isotopic and elemental ratios are presented. Relative uncertainties of Cf isotopic ratios range from 0.3% to 0.5% and the uncertainty of the $^{249}$Bk/$^{248}$Cm and $^{249}$Cf/$^{248}$Cm elemental ratios are respectively 6.1% and 3.2%. This level of uncertainty for both isotopic and elemental ratios is in perfect agreement with the requirement for transmutation studies.
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A. Gourgiotis, Hélène Isnard, Anthony Nonell, M. Aubert, G. Stadelmann, et al.. Bk and Cf chromatographic separation and $^{249}$Bk/$^{248}$Cm and $^{249}$Cf/$^{248}$Cm elemental ratios determination by inductively coupled plasma quadrupole mass spectrometry. Talanta, Elsevier, 2013, 106, pp.39 - 44. ⟨10.1016/j.talanta.2012.11.056⟩. ⟨cea-01792079⟩

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