Neutron activation analysis

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An analytical technique used to qualitatively or quantitatively determine the elemental content of materials. Neutron activation analysis (NAA) uses a neutron source, such as a reactor or an accelerator, to irradiate the sample. Elements in the sample become radioactive and emit gamma rays as they decay. The characteristic energiey lines and intensity of the decay processes are measured with a detector and a gamma spectrometer to determine the types and amounts of elements present. NAA is good for trace elemental analysis since detection limits are in parts per million. It has been used for provenancing stones (Aston et al 2000) and characterizing glass (Sayre and Smith 1961).

Synonyms and Related Terms

NAA; analyse par activation neutronique (Fr.); Neutronenactivierungsanalyse (Deut.); análise por activação neutrónica (Port.)

Additional Information

° B.Aston, J.Harrell, I.Shaw, "Stone" in Ancient Egyptian Materials and Technology, P.Nicholson, I.Shaw (eds.), Cambridge University Press, 2000, p. 68. ° E.V.Sayre, R.W.Smith, "Compositional Categories of Ancient Glass: Science, 133(June 9): 1824-6, 1961.


  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • Dictionary of Building Preservation, Ward Bucher, ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York City, 1996
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