A rapid and effective process to analyze for plutonium and other actinide metals affords a high chemical yield and provides isotopic information for forensic evaluation. The process employs alpha spectrometry of films of tripodal oxygen donor ligands. The films were prepared by spin-casting solutions onto glass substrates. Three different ligands were evaluated for plutonium binding. The best results were obtained using the ethyl-substituted complex Na[Cp*Co(P(O)(OEt).sub.2).sub.3], which bound 80-99% of the dissolved plutonium under equilibrium conditions. The thin films exhibit excellent alpha spectral resolution with line widths of approximately 33 keV. The method has been successfully applied to analyze for plutonium in both an archived nuclear debris sample and a certified environmental soil sample. The results obtained from the soil analysis are in good agreement with the certified values, demonstrating the effectiveness of the method for rapid plutonium analysis.
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERAL RIGHTS
 This invention was made with government support under Contract No. DE-AC52-06NA25396 awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The government has certain rights in the invention.