NIST logo

The Urgent Requirements for New Radioanalytical CRMs


A multi-agency workshop was held from 25–27 August 2009, at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), to identify and prioritize the development of radioanalytical Certified Reference Materials (CRMs)for field and laboratory nuclear measurement methods to be used to assess the consequences of a domestic or international nuclear event. 


Without these CRMs, policy makers concerned with detecting proliferation and trafficking of nuclear materials, attribution and retribution following a nuclear event, and public health consequences of a nuclear event would have difficulty making decisions based on analytical data that would stand up to scientific, public, and judicial scrutiny. The workshop concentrated on three areas: post-incident Improvised Nuclear Device (IND) nuclear forensics, safeguard materials characterization, and consequence management for an IND or a Radiological Dispersion Device detonation scenario. The workshop identified specific CRM requirements to fulfill the needs for these three measurement communities. Of highest priority are: 1) isotope dilution mass spectrometry standards, specifically 233U, 236gNp, 244Pu, and 243Am, used for quantitative analysis of the respective elements that are in critically short supply and in urgent need of replenishment and certification; 2) CRMs that are urgently needed for post-detonation debris analysis of actinides and fission fragments, and 3) CRMs used for destructive and nondestructive analyses for safeguards measurements, and radioisotopes of interest in environmental matrices.

The follow-up workshop was held 9-11 February 2010 at NIST to develop solution options and cost estimates for the gaps defined at the August 2009 workshop.  A total of thirty-four gap analyses and proposals were generated: 7 hex-chart proposals for consequence management issues; 4 hex-chart proposals for detecting nuclear technology; 10 for safeguard material characterization; and 13 for post-nuclear detonation material characterization.  The proposal package was submitted to DoD for the 2012-2016 submission.

Lead Organizational Unit:



Radioactivity Group

Kenneth G.W. Inn