SOFIA Tool for Analysis of Nuclear Material 

The Los Alamos National Laboratory developed a tool called SOFIA – a spectrometer optimized for facility integrated applications – to analyze nuclear materials such as uranium and plutonium.  

SOFIA is a better, high-resolution ‘camera’ to determine the isotopic composition of nuclear materials, which is critical for ensuring their peaceful use.  

SOFIA provides better resolution than standard high-purity germanium detectors in a relatively small instrument. This means that it can be operated in nearly any facility, such as nuclear fuel-cycle facilities, medical-isotope production facilities, environmental monitoring laboratories and other locations that require analysis of nuclear and radioactive materials to verify their use for peaceful purposes but not for fabrication of nuclear weapons.   

SOFIA provides complete nondestructive analysis, meaning that the container with the material does not need to be opened. It ensures as precise and accurate results as those in more costly sampling and destructive laboratory analysis.  

Conventional gamma-ray spectroscopy is widely used to determine the isotopic composition of special nuclear materials such as uranium and plutonium. However, with 1% to 3% uncertainty, the precision of conventional methods is insufficient to meet today’s increasing nuclear safeguards goals and responsibilities. Most analyses must be performed on samples that are collected and sent to analytical laboratories for destructive analysis. This is costly and time-consuming, while tools such as SOFIA  can alleviate this situation. Moreover, the availability of improved mobile tools would promote the adoption of safer and more economical advanced nuclear reactors.  

According to Los Alamos National Laboratory