Department of Chemistry

Neutron Activation Analysis (NAA)

NAA Process

What is NAA?

Neutron activation analysis is a method for measuring the chemical elements in a material. Simply stated, NAA involves converting a small number of atoms in a sample into radioactive atoms. When these radioactive atoms decay, they emit unique radiation that identifies the atoms, like a fingerprint identifies a person. Further, by carefully counting the number of radiation particles emitted from the sample, we can determine the number of atoms that are in the sample. Thus, NAA tells us both the identity (qualitative) and the amount (quantitative) of an element in a sample.

Can NAA help me?

Our interactive periodic table provides some guidance as to which elements can be measured by NAA. Roughly two-thirds of the elements can be measured by NAA, and often solid or liquid samples can be handled. However, lots of factors go into choosing an appropriate analytical method, and we will use our expertise and experience to decide upon the best option. Please contact us for discussion.

How can I have my samples analyzed?

  • New Customers

    If you've never worked with us, or if your contact information has changed, please grab a copy of our Customer Information Form. You can send a completed copy to us by mail, email, or fax. (Note: TAMU customers can skip this step and the next and proceed to "Sample Submission.")

  • Testing Agreements

    In order for us to do an analysis in advance of payment (extending credit), our University requires that we have a Testing Agreement signed by both parties. To make this easy, the TAMU contracts office has pre-approved a standardized one-page Testing Agreement. This is also available from the Forms menu. The standard agreement period is for the current fiscal year (September to August). Longer agreement periods are welcomed. Other terms can be negotiated, but the legal review process can cause delays.

  • Sample Submission

    For both TAMU and external customers, submitting samples for NAA is a simple procedure. A Sample Submission Form should be completed for each set of samples that are sent to us. You can email it or send a printed copy with your samples. Our shipping address is found at the top of the Sample Submission Form and on our Contact page.

  • Pricing

    The charges for NAA vary depending upon the element(s) of interest and the number of samples. The price/sample decreases significantly as the number of samples increases. Whether a short irradiation ("Ptube") or a long irradiation ("Long Irrad") is needed depends on several factors. The EAL staff will decide which method is appropriate based on information you provide about your samples. FNAA is a special type of NAA that is only useful for certain elements. Please consult with us before requesting a particular type of NAA. Our current schedule of prices can be opened with the link. This table is also included as an appendix to the Testing Agreement.

  • Reporting

    Upon completion of our analysis, a report letter will be emailed to everyone listed on the Sample Submission Form. We treat our customers' data confidentially and will only provide analysis results to those individuals whom you designate. If any additional measures are needed to secure intellectual property, please let us know.