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  • 1 University of the Witwatersrand Department of Chemistry P.O. Wits 2050 South Africa
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The use, for analysis, of K X-rays proceeding from metastable and beta-emitting radionuclides—produced by neutron activation—is an undeveloped aspect of activation analysis. Consequently, this study examines the feasibility of applying X-ray spectrometry to isotope source activation analysis and in particular the determination of Sm and Eu at low levels is described. Generally speaking, the sensitivity is seriously restricted by the thermal neutron flux of the source but in certain specific cases the analysis is favoured by the nuclear properties of the elements concerned. Therefore, the selection of elements was based largely on their demand for analysis and their ability to produce a practicable yield. Optimum signalto-noise ratios were attained by employing a detector that was particularly sensitive at energies below 150 keV. Analytical conditions are demonstrated for the elements of interest over a wide range of concentrations in small samples, and ultimately the applicability of the method was tested by the analysis of a typical monazite sample. The analytical potential of the method is thoroughly appraised and possible practical applications are discussed.