Two students writing on a glass whiteboard

Nuclear Forensics Lab

Nuclear Forensics is a multi-disciplinary science that utilizes technology from chemistry, physics, and nuclear engineering to thoroughly investigate the chemical, physical, and radioactive properties of an unknown, suspicious substance in order to determine its origin and provenance. If a hazardous material is found or intercepted during transport, knowing how, when, and by whom the material was fabricated can  prevent these materials being used by persons who desire to cause harm to people or property. 

Tools Used in Nuclear Forensics

Laboratory instruments and resources you see in the movies and on television being used by crime scene investigators are identical to those used in nuclear forensics, except for the guns and yellow tape.

Intercepted Nuclear Material

What can you learn from a submicron particle of nuclear material found in a sample?

  • How was it produced?
  • When was it produced?
  • Where was it produced?
  • What is its intended use?

Signature Analysis

  • Isotopes
  • Major Elements
  • Trace Elements
  • Microstructure
  • Morphology
  • Age Dating
  • Pathway

Graduate Nuclear Forensics Fellowship Program

An academic and research program is available for graduate students that teaches methods and practices used in analyzing intercepted radioactive or nuclear material in order to determine how, where, and when it was produced and what the owner expected to do with the material.


Headshot of Henry Spitz

Henry Spitz

Professor, CEAS - Mechanical Eng

351 RCA