JURGEN SCRIBA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JURGEN SCRIBA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Detecting contraband plutonium. Screen display showing parts of the mass spectrum of a sample of contraband plutonium. Each small window represents a different element - here oxygen-16 and gallium- 69 are highlighted in yellow. The presence and quantity of various impurities acts as a 'signature', helping to identify the country of origin or even the source facility where the plutonium was produced. This work is performed in the nuclear chemistry department of the European Trans-Uranium Institute (ETUI) at Karlsruhe, Germany.
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