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A system and method for detecting and identifying nuclear materials by detecting and measuring positive and negative ions in multiple ion chambers, wherein each ion chamber comprises a different gas, including oxygen, argon, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and humid air, and one or more ion counters. The ion data can be transmitted to an isotope identification module. The ion data can include a distinctive pattern data of positive-ion production rates and negative-ion production rates generated from the measured positive and negative ions. The isotope identification module can compare the pattern data of positive-ion production rates and negative-ion production rates to an isotope data library, and identify a detected nuclear isotope with the isotope identification module. A display can show the identified detected nuclear isotope; a probability of the presence of the detected nuclear isotope; and a radioactivity of the detected nuclear isotope.