163.209 Nuclear Forensics
This course is in all assigned curricula part of the STEOP.
This course is in at least 1 assigned curriculum part of the STEOP.

2024S, VO, 2.0h, 3.0EC

Course evaluation


  • Semester hours: 2.0
  • Credits: 3.0
  • Type: VO Lecture
  • Format: Presence

Learning outcomes

After successful completion of the course, students are able to understand and attribute the nature of radioactive material and radioactive contamination through a forensic approach. The course provides an introduction and overview of nuclear forensics methods and covers applications in criminal forensics and environmental forensics. This includes age and origin determinations of radioactive specimens or contamination using radionuclides as well as the application of the principle of isotopic and chemical fingerprinting. To this end, background information (relevant to forensics) on the operation of nuclear weapons, reprocessing, and nuclear weapons test ban verification will be discussed. Discussion of past examples will deepen understanding.

Subject of course

The lecture is creditable for the following master studies: Physics (elective catalog Atomic and Subatomic Physics) and Technical Chemistry (module Radiochemistry). Since the curricula are only updated once a year, the lecture will only be included in the curricula after the next update. However, the late entry is irrelevant for the crediting.

  • Definitions
  • Activity and half-life
  • Karlsruhe nuclide map
  • Bethe-Weizsäcker equation
  • Cross section of activity
  • Activation equation
  • Nuclear fission, fission yield and fission products
  • Ratios
  • Radioactive equilibrium (transient, secular, no equilibrium)
  • Dating
  • Dating with tritium
  • Radiocarbon dating
  • Nuclear reactions and notation
  • Dating Topaz
  • Potassium-argon dating
  • Sediment dating
  • Age determination plutonium
  • age determination uranium
  • chemical indicators
  • neutron activation analysis
  • chemical fingerprints
  • Europium anomaly
  • nuclear weapons grade material
  • critical mass
  • differences uranium and plutonium nuclear weapons
  • Uranium enrichment
  • Uranium separation work
  • Case Study: Romanian Uranium Separation Work
  • Khan case
  • Uranium-233
  • Denaturing uranium with U-232
  • Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)
  • Plutonium
  • Differences between uranium and plutonium weapons
  • Physics of a nuclear explosion
  • Neutron generation in nuclear weapon
  • Plutonium "varieties
  • Pre-detonation
  • Pu in the environment
  • BIPO process
  • PUREX process
  • Haigerloch reactor
  • Discovery of nuclear fission
  • Uranium project and reactor design
  • Safety precautions of the Haigerloch reactor
  • Uranium materials of the uranium project
  • Uranium forensics (origin, age)
  • Uranium production for Haigerloch reactor
  • Ruthenium release 2017
  • release from reprocessing plant vs. reactor accident
  • radiochemical purity of Ru
  • Satellite hypothesis
  • Romania hypothesis
  • chemical speciation of released isotopes
  • age determination Ru
  • connection with order for Gran Sasso
  • stable isotopes
  • nuclear weapons testing
  • CTBT and CTBT verification
  • Vela Incident
  • Noble gas monitoring
  • Tests in various environmental compartments
  • Radioxenon
  • International Monitoring System
  • Xenon signatures
  • DPRK nuclear weapons testing
  • Interference for IMS
  • I-131 Monitoring
  • Ring of Five
  • Thyroid glands as biomonitors
  • Subcritical tests
  • Radiocesium
  • Differentiation of signatures from Fukushima Daiichi
  • Hydrogen explosions
  • Case study unit 4
  • Case studies Blocks 1-3
  • 134Cs/137Cs
  • 135Cs/137Cs
  • Radiocesium mass spectrometry
  • Wild boar paradox
  • Radiocesium fingerprinting


Teaching methods

Frontal lecture with active participation of students

Mode of examination




Course dates

Tue16:00 - 18:0005.03.2024 - 25.06.2024Sem.R. DA grün 05 VO Nukleare Forensik
Nuclear Forensics - Single appointments
Tue05.03.202416:00 - 18:00Sem.R. DA grün 05 VO Nukleare Forensik
Tue12.03.202416:00 - 18:00Sem.R. DA grün 05 VO Nukleare Forensik
Tue19.03.202416:00 - 18:00Sem.R. DA grün 05 VO Nukleare Forensik
Tue16.04.202416:00 - 18:00Sem.R. DA grün 05 VO Nukleare Forensik
Tue23.04.202416:00 - 18:00Sem.R. DA grün 05 VO Nukleare Forensik
Tue30.04.202416:00 - 18:00Sem.R. DA grün 05 VO Nukleare Forensik
Tue07.05.202416:00 - 18:00Sem.R. DA grün 05 VO Nukleare Forensik
Tue14.05.202416:00 - 18:00Sem.R. DA grün 05 VO Nukleare Forensik
Tue28.05.202416:00 - 18:00Sem.R. DA grün 05 VO Nukleare Forensik
Tue04.06.202416:00 - 18:00Sem.R. DA grün 05 VO Nukleare Forensik
Tue18.06.202416:00 - 18:00Sem.R. DA grün 05 VO Nukleare Forensik
Tue25.06.202416:00 - 18:00Sem.R. DA grün 05 VO Nukleare Forensik

Examination modalities

Written exam


DayTimeDateRoomMode of examinationApplication timeApplication modeExam
Tue16:15 - 17:4525.06.2024 Simnar room 05, Freihaus, green area (like lecture)written05.05.2024 09:00 - 23.06.2024 23:59TISS1. Prüfung Nukleare Forensik
Tue16:00 - 18:0002.07.2024Sem.R. DA grün 05 written05.05.2024 09:00 - 30.06.2024 23:59TISS2. Prüfung Nukleare Forensik
Tue16:00 - 18:0009.07.2024Seminarraum Lehar 02 written28.05.2024 11:00 - 07.07.2024 23:59TISS3. Prüfung Nukleare Forensik
Tue16:15 - 17:4524.06.2025 Simnar room 05, Freihaus, green area (like lecture)written04.05.2025 09:00 - 22.06.2025 23:59TISS1. Prüfung Nukleare Forensik
Tue16:00 - 18:0001.07.2025Sem.R. DA grün 05 written04.05.2025 09:00 - 29.06.2025 23:59TISS2. Prüfung Nukleare Forensik
Tue16:00 - 18:0008.07.2025Seminarraum Lehar 02 written27.05.2025 11:00 - 06.07.2025 23:59TISS3. Prüfung Nukleare Forensik

Course registration

Begin End Deregistration end
05.03.2024 20:00


Study CodeObligationSemesterPrecon.Info
066 490 Technical Chemistry Not specified
800 FW Elective Courses - Technical Chemistry Mandatory elective


No lecture notes are available.

Previous knowledge

Basic knowledge chemistry and physics