Nuclear Forensic Analysis: 2nd Edition (Hardback) book cover

Nuclear Forensic Analysis

2nd Edition

By Kenton J. Moody, Patrick M. Grant, Ian D. Hutcheon

CRC Press

524 pages | 111 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781439880616
pub: 2014-12-10
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pub: 2014-12-10
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Now in its second edition, Nuclear Forensic Analysis provides a multidisciplinary reference for forensic scientists, analytical and nuclear chemists, and nuclear physicists in one convenient source. The authors focus particularly on the chemical, physical, and nuclear aspects associated with the production or interrogation of a radioactive sample. They consolidate fundamental principles of nuclear forensic analysis, all pertinent protocols and procedures, computer modeling development, interpretational insights, and attribution considerations. The principles and techniques detailed are then demonstrated and discussed in their applications to real-world investigations and casework conducted over the past several years.

Highlights of the Second Edition include:

  • A new section on sample analysis considerations and interpretation following a post-detonation nuclear forensic collection
  • New case studies, including the most wide-ranging and multidisciplinary nuclear forensic investigation conducted by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to date
  • Expanded treatments of radiologic dispersal devices (RDDs) and statistical analysis methodologies

The material is presented with minimal mathematical formality, using consistent terminology with limited jargon, making it a reliable, accessible reference. The broad-based coverage provides important insight into the multifaceted changes facing this recently developed science.


Praise for the First Edition

"This book by three of the leading authorities in the field outlines a critically important area of forensic science in the modern world. … should be in the library of every forensic laboratory."

—Chemistry Professor W.F. Kinard, College of Charleston, in The Journal of Forensic Sciences

Table of Contents


Nuclear Materials

Nuclear Power and Pu Production

Nuclear Weapons and the Cold War

Nuclear Treaties and Nonproliferation Programs

SNM Disposition

Nuclear Proliferation and Terrorism

Nuclear Smuggling

Forensic Goals

Physical Basis of Nuclear Forensic Science


Types of Radioactive Decay

Rate Laws in Radioactive Decay

Atoms, Binding Energy, and Chart of the Nuclides

Nuclear Structure, Isomerism, and Selection Rules

Nuclear Reactions

Natural Radioactivity

Fission, Barrier Penetration, and Energy Production

Engineering Issues

Natural versus Synthetic Materials

Recovery of Actinides from the Earth

Separation and Enrichment of U Isotopes

Electromagnetic Isotope Separation

Gaseous Diffusion

Thermal Diffusion

Gas Centrifugation

Aerodynamic Enrichment

Laser Isotope Separation

Isotope Enrichment Through Chemical Exchange

Nuclear Reactors, Power, and the Production of Pu and 233U

Recovery and Purification of Heavy Elements from Reactor Products

Heavy-Element Metals and Alloys

Chemistry and Nuclear Forensic Science

Tracers in Inorganic Analysis

Relevant Chemical Properties

Principles of Nuclear Explosive Devices

One-Stage Fission Explosive (Atomic Bomb)


Two-Stage Nuclear Explosive (Hydrogen Bomb)

Forensic Analysis of Nuclear-Explosive Debris


Heavy Elements and Fission-Product Chronometers

Granddaughters and Spoof Detection

Detection of Incomplete Fuel Reprocessing

Techniques for Small Signatures

Chemical Separations and Reduction of Background

Radiochemical Milking

Mass Spectrometry and Microanalysis

Radiation Detection

Interaction of Radiation with Matter

Decay Characteristics

Gas-Phase Detectors

Solid-State Detectors

Scintillation Detectors

Empirical Application and Spectra

Collateral Forensic Indicators

Stable Isotopes



Inorganic Elements

Organic Analyses

High Explosives

Hairs and Fibers

Inks and Papers



Sample Matrices and Collection

Soil/Sediment Matrices

Vegetation Matrices

Water Matrix

Fauna Matrices

Other Matrices

Collection Tactics

Radiochemical Procedures




MS Analysis and Reagent Purity

Inorganic/Isotopic Sample Preparation

Alpha Counting

Beta Counting

Gamma Counting

Inorganic Techniques

Organic Sample Preparation


Solid-Phase Microextraction


Extraordinary Sample Issues

Field Collection Kits

NDA Field Radioactivity Detection

Laboratory Analyses

Radiation Counting Systems

Counting Lab

Counter Shielding and Systems

Particle Detection

Chemistry Lab Application

Tritium Analysis

Imaging and Microscopy

Optical Microscopy

Scanning Electron Microscopy

Transmission Electron Microscopy

Electron Microprobe Analysis

X-Ray Microanalysis

Infrared Spectroscopy

Isotope MS

Isotope-Ratio MS

Element MS

MS and Microanalysis

Gas Chromatography–Mass Spectrometry

Capillary Electrophoresis

Inferred Production Estimates



SNM Stocks


Materials Fingerprinting

Criminalistics Comparisons

Material Compositions


Source and Route Attribution


Source Attribution Questions

Route Attribution Questions

Forensic Analysis of Interdicted Nuclear Materials

Laboratory Characterization of Nuclear Materials for Source Data

Laboratory Characterization of Nuclear Materials for Route Data

Prioritization of Forensic Tools for Route Attribution

Analytic Techniques for Nuclear Forensic Interrogation


Elemental Composition/Major and Trace Elements

Organic Species


Physical and Structural Characteristics

Geolocation and Route Attribution: Real-World Examples

Pb-Isotope Fingerprinting

O-Isotope Fingerprinting

Other Isotopic Ratios

Reference Data for Enhanced Interpretation

Forensic Investigation of a Highly Enriched Uranium Sample Interdicted In Bulgaria

Analyses of Uranium Oxide

Analyses of Collateral Evidence

Lead Container

Yellow Wax

Paper Liner and Label

Glass Ampoule


Counterforensic Investigation of US Enrichment Plants







Nuclear Smuggling Hoax — D-38 Counterweight

Background and Analyses

Results and Discussion

Nuclear Smuggling Hoax — Sc Metal

Background and Analyses

Results and Discussion

Fatal "Cold Fusion" Explosion

Background and Analyses

Results and Discussion


Questioned Sample from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency

Background and Nondestructive Analysis

Radiochemistry and Results




About the Authors

Kenton J. Moody is with the Nuclear Chemistry Division at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), where he is a technical leader for the application of nuclear and radiochemical techniques to problems in national security and the U.S. nuclear stockpile. He also performs basic research on the heaviest elements. In addition to numerous classified reports detailing the performance of nuclear explosive devices, he has coauthored more than 100 refereed journal publications in the subject areas of the decay properties of the heaviest elements, nuclear reaction mechanisms, fission, and nuclear structure. He has co-discovered six chemical elements and more than four dozen heavy-element isotopes.

Patrick M. Grant has been a staff member at Livermore National Laboratory since 1983, serving as the deputy director and special operations and samples manager of the Forensic Science Center. In addition to numerous classified and law enforcement reports, he has authored or coauthored more than 120 refereed publications in the open literature in diverse subject areas. He has been a fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences since 1999 and a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Forensic Sciences since 2003. One of his unclassified investigations, a scientific explanation for the Riverside Hospital Emergency Room "Mystery Fumes" incident, was extensively highlighted in the popular media and is now appearing in fundamental forensic science textbooks.

Ian D. Hutcheon is the deputy director of the Glenn Seaborg Institute, the Chemical and Isotopic Signatures group leader in the Nuclear and Chemical Sciences Division, and a Distinguished Member of the Technical Staff at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. He has authored over 180 publications in peer-reviewed journals in the areas of secondary-ion mass spectrometry, the early history of the solar system, and nuclear forensic analysis. He also serves on the review panels of the NASA Cosmochemistry Program and the Sample Return Laboratory Instruments and Data Analysis Program. He is a member of the American Geophysical Union and a fellow of the Meteoritical Society.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / Forensic Science
SCIENCE / Chemistry / General
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Chemical & Biochemical