Accelerator mass spectrometry measurements of 93Zr for astrophysical and nuclear technology applications

Stefan Pavetich*, Anton Wallner, Harry Bottero, L. Keith Fifield, Michaela B. Froehlich, Yanan Huang, Dominik Koll, Zsolt Révay, Zuzana Slavkovská, Johannes H. Sterba, Stephen G. Tims

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    5 Citations (Scopus)


    Zirconium-93 is a long-lived radionuclide with a half-life of (1.61 ± 0.05) × 106 yr. Production cross sections for 93Zr by neutron capture on stable 92Zr in the keV and thermal energy ranges are important input parameters for astrophysical network calculations and nuclear industry, respectively. Despite their importance, existing experimental data suffer from large uncertainties. Here, the combination of neutron activation and accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) is presented as an alternative method to online time-of-flight measurements for the determination of these cross sections. The main challenges for AMS of 93Zr are the interference from the stable isobar 93Nb and the production of suitable reference material. At the Heavy Ion Accelerator Facility (HIAF) the first challenge is tackled with the available high particle energies and by investigating different Zr compounds and extracted molecular beams. Using ZrF5 beams extracted from ZrF4 sample material, it is shown that the Nb background can be reduced by up to two orders of magnitude relative to the extraction of ZrO beams from ZrO2. Using the 13+ charge state and particle energies of ∼190 MeV, 93Zr/Zr background levels in the 10−12 range are regularly achieved at HIAF. The ZrF5 output from ZrF4 samples may be highly variable but can be stabilised using an intimate mixture of ZrF4 and PbF2 at a ratio of 1:10 that has been dried down from a concentrated hydrofluoric acid solution. An option to produce a well-characterised 93Zr reference material by utilising the well-known 235U-fission yield of 93Zr is discussed. Once this remaining challenge is resolved, accurate measurements of the astrophysically and technologically relevant neutron-capture cross sections of 92Zr using AMS will be possible at HIAF.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)45-51
    Number of pages7
    JournalNuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research, Section B: Beam Interactions with Materials and Atoms
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2022


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