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Toward a New Primary Standardization of Radionuclide Massic Activity Using Microcalorimetry and Quantitative Milligram-Scale Samples



Ryan P. Fitzgerald, Bradley Alpert, Dan Becker, Denis E. Bergeron, Richard Essex, Kelsey Morgan, Svetlana Nour, Galen O'Neil, Dan Schmidt, Gordon A. Shaw, Daniel Swetz, R. Michael Verkouteren, Daikang Yan


We present a new paradigm for the primary standardization of radionuclide activity per mass of solution (Bq/g). Two key enabling capabilities are 4π decay-energy spectrometry using chip-scale sub-Kelvin microcalorimeters and direct realization of mass by gravimetric inkjet dispensing using an electrostatic force balance. In contrast to traditional traceability, which typically relies on chemical separation of single-radionuclide samples, 4π integral counting, and additional spectrometry methods to verify purity, the system described here has both 4π counting efficiency and spectroscopic resolution sufficient to identify multiple radionuclides in the same sample at once. This enables primary standardization of activity concentrations of mixed-radionuclide samples. A major benefit of this capability, beyond metrology, is in assay of environmental and forensics samples, for which the quantification of multiplenuclide samples can be achieved where presently inhibited by interferences. This can be achieved without the need for chemical separations or efficiency tracers, thereby vastly reducing time, radioactive waste, and resulting measurement uncertainty.
Journal of Research (NIST JRES) -


alpha, beta, cryogenic detectors, mass metrology, microcalorimeter, radioactivity, radionuclide metrology, transition edge sensor


Fitzgerald, R. , Alpert, B. , Becker, D. , Bergeron, D. , Essex, R. , Morgan, K. , Nour, S. , O'Neil, G. , Schmidt, D. , Shaw, G. , Swetz, D. , Verkouteren, R. and Yan, D. (2022), Toward a New Primary Standardization of Radionuclide Massic Activity Using Microcalorimetry and Quantitative Milligram-Scale Samples, Journal of Research (NIST JRES), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online],, (Accessed May 20, 2024)


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Created February 24, 2022, Updated November 29, 2022