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Analytical chemistry techniques are used in a variety of applications to support DOE missions. For example, chemical separations and detection methods are used for nuclear forensics and other applications to analyze a variety of environmental sample types for both stable and radioactive isotopes that span almost the entire periodic table. These analyses typically include dissolving the sample, isolating several chemical species of interest at relatively low concentrations, and then using a variety of different detection techniques. Efficiency of the analytical techniques is crucial to ensure the overall analysis process is timely, reproducible, and non-labor intensive. Within the DOE and throughout numerous industries, the process of performing chemical analysis is based on traditional procedures that involve complex acid digestion of solid samples before measuring elemental and-or isotopic composition. These procedures are laborious, hazardous to personnel, generate waste products, and can require days to months before providing results. A transformational enabling technology is required that can provide real-time trace elemental and isotopic analysis without needing consumables or generating waste products and without the need for a man-in-the-loop specialized operator. Such a technology would address critical needs within the NNSA for nuclear forensics, uranium and plutonium detection, and other hazardous materials identification applications.
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