I) Analytical chemistry

1. Development of mass spectrometry methods for determination of radionuclides, which are traditionally determined radiometrically

In the framework of the master topic the student will develop mass spectrometry methods fro the determination of Ra-226, Pb-210 and Sr-90. These radionuclides are traditionally determined by radiometric methods, such as alpha spectrometry, proportional counter and liquid scintillation counter due to relatively short half live. Recent developments in mass spectrometry shows potential that these radionuclides could be also determined by mass spectrometry and student will try to develop and validate suitable procedures for that. In next step, methodologies will be applied to environmental samples.

Mentors: dr. Marko Štrok (marko.strok@ijs.si), Leja Rovan (leja.rovan@ijs.si)

2. Automatisation of radionuclide separation protocols

Radiochemical methods for separation of radionuclides requires a lot of manual work of analyst and are consequently very labor intensive and costly. Student will try to automate specific steps in separation protocols, such as extraction chromatography, by developing and testing systems for automatic delivery of reagents. Finally, the most promising options will be validated and performance will be compared to manual methods.

Mentor: dr. Marko Štrok (marko.strok@ijs.si)

3. Development of passive samplers for monitoring of radionuclides

Student will try to address sampling issues of environmental samples for radionuclide monitoring. In particular, water bodies where it is difficult to take representative sample of for instance river water to evaluate monthly or yearly exposure due to radionuclides. After literature survey, student will select most promising options and develop them, validate their response and apply them in the field for radionuclide sampling.

Mentors: dr. Marko Štrok (marko.strok@ijs.si), dr. Raghuraj Singh Chouhan (raghuraj.singh@ijs.si)

4. Development of laboratory informatic system compliant with ISO 17025

Laboratories which are maintaining analytical methods accredited according to ISO 17025 are faced with different challenges they have to fulfil to be compliant with ISO 17025 standard. The main consideration is devoted towards constant improvements of their efficiency and quality. One of possible improvement is introducing paperless documentation system, which could potentially improve quality management and reduce costs of sustaining such a system. Therefore, student will try to develop web-based laboratory informatic system compliant with ISO 17025, which would enable more efficient execution of methods and better quality management.

Mentor: dr. Marko Štrok (marko.strok@ijs.si

5. Determination of elemental composition in environmental samples by k0-method of neutron activation analysis

The student will be acquainted with the main laws of neutron activation analysis (NAA) and the k0-method. The k0-method allows the simultaneous determination of several elements of the periodic table (about 60 elements) in samples from an environment of inorganic or organic origin. The method basically uses a nuclear reactor where the sample and the standard (Al-0.1% Au alloy) are irradiated together with neutrons, an absolutely calibrated HPGe detector for gamma ray detection, a program for evaluating gamma spectra and a program for calculating the elemental composition of the sample. The k0-method of NAA will be used to analyze various samples from the environment, which can be in powder form or prepared in the form of tablets of known dimensions.

Mentor: dr. Radojko Jaćimović (radojko.jacimovic@ijs.si)

6. Determination of nuclear constants of individual nuclides using the TRIGA reactor

The student will be introduced with the modes of operation of the TRIGA Mark II reactor of the "Jožef Stefan" Institute and the methods for determining the nuclear constants for individual radionuclides. Certified standard solutions, certified reference materials and thin foils and alloys of various metals will be used in the work. Experimentally determined nuclear data will be compared with theoretical data given in different libraries. The experimental data will be used to update the so-called k0-library of nuclear data.

Mentor: dr. Radojko Jaćimović (radojko.jacimovic@ijs.si)

7. Functionalized nanostructured materials as adsorbant and sensing probes for the detection of environmental pollutants.

With rapid emerging environmental pollutants has gained momentum due to its widespread requirement in the fields of clinical research, occupational hygiene, public health, and societal welfare. The use of graphene analogs as functionalized and doped nanostructured materials (FNSMs: e.g., graphene, graphitic nitride, carbon dots, nanotubes, and nanocrystals) has opened a new avenue for creating simple, selective, and non-invasive real-time analysis, as they can satisfy the growing demand for rapid and cost-effective quantitation. By utilizing their semiconductor properties and tunable nature, novel strategies will design to fabricate the traps, which can serve as probes for sensing and quantification of heavy metal ions in the environment. These developed nanostructure materials can be outpaced the conventionally available materials in terms of selectivity, sensitivity, and cost-effectiveness. These nanostructure materials are non-toxic, earth-abundant, greener alternative, and easily scalable. Particularly, we will emphasize potential approaches for the synthesis and characterization of FNSMs and their underlying interactions with environmental pollutants. The simplification of design and enhancement of specificity towards target analytes should be pursued further to upgrade their real-world applicability in diverse fields.

 Mentor: dr. Raghuraj Singh Chouhan (raghuraj.singh@ijs.si)