J. Phys. IV France
Volume 05, Numéro C7, Novembre 1995
Second International Conference on Ultra High Purity Base Metals
UHPM - 95
Page(s) C7-99 - C7-110
Second International Conference on Ultra High Purity Base Metals
UHPM - 95

J. Phys. IV France 05 (1995) C7-99-C7-110

DOI: 10.1051/jp4:1995708

Alpha Rays Emitting Impurities in Ultra Pure Aluminum Evolution Through the Successive Refining Steps

M. Leroy

Aluminium Pechiney, BP. 7, 38380 Voreppe, France

Alpha rays are a major source of software errors in integrated circuits, especially in DRAM memories. A major aim of refining techniques used for the production of Ultra-pure aluminium alloys is therefore to eliminate radioactive impurities. This elimination was studied all along the refining steps from the ore (bauxite) to Ultra-pure aluminium. A major observation is that Radium isotopes accumulate in the caustic soda liquor, used for production of alumina from bauxite and in the cryolithic melt used for production of primary aluminium from alumina. Accumulated isotope Radium 228, which has a rather short half-life, disintegrates by β-emission to Thorium 228, which then transfers immediately to cathodic aluminium metal. This induces a strong disequilibrium in the decay chain of Thorium 232, and, as a result, more than 80 % of the total alpha-emission of Ultra-pure aluminium comes from alpha-decay of Thorium 228 and its daughters, which are not in equilibrium with Thorium 232. As a consequence, the content of Aluminium in U 238 and Th 232 (the only isotopes measured by GDMS or ICP/MS) can just give a rough order of magnitude of Alpha-emission, the Th 232 family being by far the most deleterious as regards software errors.

© EDP Sciences 1995