Simon, A and Pedro, JB and Smith, AM and Child, DP and Fink, D, Reprocessing of 10B-contaminated 10Be AMS targets, Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research. Section B. Beam Interactions With Materials and Atoms, 294 pp. 208-213. ISSN 0168-583X (2013) [Refereed Article]
10Be accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) is an increasingly important tool in studies ranging from exposure age dating and palaeo-geomagnetism to the impact of solar variability on the Earth’s climate. High levels of boron in BeO AMS targets can adversely impact the quality of 10Be measurements through interference from the isobar 10B. Numerous methods in chemical sample preparation and AMS measurement have been employed in order to reduce the impact of excessive boron rates. We present details of a method developed to chemically reprocess a set of forty boron-contaminated BeO targets derived from modern Antarctic ice. Previously, the excessive boron levels in these samples, as measured in an argon-filled absorber cell preceding the ionisation detector, had precluded routine AMS measurement. The procedure involved removing the BeO + Nb mixture from the target holders and dissolving the BeO in hot concentrated H2SO4. The solution was then heated with HF to remove the boron as volatile BF3 before re-precipitating as Be(OH)2 and calcining to BeO. This was again mixed with niobium and pressed into fresh target holders. Following reprocessing, the samples gave boron rates reduced by 10–100×, which were sufficiently low and similar to previous successful batches of ice core, snow and associated blank samples, thus allowing a successful 10Be measurement in the absence of any boron correction. Overall recovery of the BeO for this process averaged 40%. Extensive testing of relevant processing equipment and reagents failed to determine the source of the boron. As a precautionary measure, a similar H2SO4 + HF step has been subsequently added to the standard ice processing method.