Physics Department Seminar
Dr. Raphael Galea
Research Officer
National Research Council
Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The Magic and Mystery of Manganese

In the year of the periodic table (150 years old since its inception), it is only fitting to look inside it and marvel at its beauty. Right in the centre of the table are the transition metals and one particular column contains Mn, Tc and Re. Tc and Re are medical isotopes and somewhat useful but to metrologists Mn is like Au. Mn is crucial to the absolute standardization of the emission rate of neutron sources. The aptly named Manganese Salt Bath method is currently the only method used at National Metrology Institutes around the world, and NRC has revived this technique last used in the 1960s in Canada. This talk will briefly outline the method but will focus more on the radionuclide standardization and more specifically the radiochemistry magic used to produce a pure Mn56 standard for the calibration of the salt bath. While the Szilard-Chalmers effect used in isotope separation was named after chemists, it was based on pioneering experiments and follow-up studies by physicist Enrico Fermi. In a similar manner, we will explore physics, chemistry and the psychology of a metrologist through this presentation.