Prompt-gamma Neutron Activation Analysis (PGAA)

Prompt Gamma Neutron Activation Analysis is emerging as an alternative technique to determine the content of quantitative and qualitative elements in various types of samples. The technique is very useful to identify material characterization, especially to control the quality and originality of the product or material.


What is PGAA?
Prompt-gamma neutron activation analysis (PGAA) is a very widely applicable technique for determining the presence and amount of many elements simultaneously in samples ranging in size from micrograms to many grams. It is a non-destructive method, and the chemical form and shape of the sample are relatively unimportant. Typical measurements are taken from a few minutes to several hours per sample.


How does PGNAA work?

The method is based on the detection of capture gamma rays emitted by a sample during neutron irradiation (Cf-252). Then, the elemental concentration is retrieved for the identified elements. In general, this technique is based on the measurement of gamma rays emitted following neutron capture reactions by the elements present in the sample detected. The emitted gamma-ray energies characterize these elements and the intensity is proportional to their concentration. Therefore, the gamma-ray spectrum of the sample can give us the information content of the elements quantitatively and qualitatively that present in the sample.

Where PGNAA is applied
Typically, the sample will not acquire significant long-lived radioactivity, and the sample may be removed from the facility and used for other purposes. One of the typical applications of PGAA is an online belt elemental analyzer or bulk material analyzer used in cement, coal, artefact archaeology and mineral industries.