Nuclear Science


Ultra-Trace Forensics Science Facility

The Ultra-trace Forensic Science Center (UFSC) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory strengthens the nation’s forensic science capability by providing state-of-the-art analysis and research facilities within clean, legacy-free facilities. The center was conceived to provide basic-research expertise and support to multiple high-impact national security and basic-science missions that rely on ultra-trace analysis and high precision measurements.

The UFSC was developed in 2011 to provide a legacy-free facility to house ORNL’s world-renowned high precision chemical and isotope mass spectrometry expertise and instruments, which form the backbone of ORNL’s nuclear forensic analytical capabilities. The center also houses ORNL’s forensic science efforts in collection science and specialty sampling system development. The location of collection and analysis expertise and instrumentation within class 10,000 cleanroom space in the UFSC allows for a high fidelity, cradle-to-grave research program in forensic science that relies on collection and analysis of samples and materials. 


  • High precision mass spectrometry development
  • Detection limit enhancement for chemical and isotopic analysis methods
  • Development and application of aerosol sampling systems for non-proliferation R&D
    1. Design and fabrication of field deployable collection systems
    2. Clean assembly and qualification
    3. Deployment and return of sampling and support systems
  • Training “Boots on the Ground” personnel in forensics methods


Clean Space Class 10,000 instrument laboratories
Instruments High resolution inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometers (2)
Thermal ionization mass spectrometer
Quadrupole mass spectrometer
Time of flight mass spectrometer
Scanning electron microscope
X-ray diffraction
X-ray fluorescence
Laminar flow hoods for sample handling
Separate sample and spike storage facility
Total space 3,335 square feet of renovated laboratory space
Sampler development Three laboratories dedicated to deployment system development and deployment

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