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Alpha Radiation-Induced Luminescence by Am-241 in Aqueous Nitric Acid Solution

Photonics Laboratory, Physics Unit, Tampere University, P.O. Box 692, 33101 Tampere, Finland
Helsinki Institute of Physics, Helsinki University, P.O. Box 64, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC), Directorate G–Nuclear Safety and Security, Advanced Nuclear Knowledge, 76125 Karlsruhe, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sensors 2019, 19(7), 1602;
Received: 13 February 2019 / Revised: 25 March 2019 / Accepted: 28 March 2019 / Published: 2 April 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Chemical Sensors)
When exposed to air, alpha particles cause the production of light by exciting the molecules surrounding them. This light, the radioluminescence, is indicative of the presence of alpha radiation, thus allowing for the optical sensing of alpha radiation from distances larger than the few centimeters an alpha particle can travel in air. While the mechanics of radioluminescence in air and other gas compositions is relatively well understood, the same cannot be said about the radioluminescence properties of liquids. Better understanding of the radioluminescence properties of liquids is essential to design methods for the detection of radioactively contaminated liquids by optical means. In this article, we provide radioluminescence images of Am-241 dissolved in aqueous nitric acid ( HNO 3 ) solution and present the recorded radioluminescence spectrum with a maximum between 350 nm and 400 nm , and a steep decrease at the short wavelength side of the maximum. The shape of the spectrum resembles a luminescence process rather than Cerenkov light, bremsstrahlung, or other mechanisms with broadband emission. We show that the amount of light produced is about 150 times smaller compared to that of the same amount of Am-241 in air. The light production in the liquid is evenly distributed throughout the sample volume with a slight increase on the surface of the liquid. The radioluminescence intensity is shown to scale linearly with the Am-241 concentration and not be affected by the HNO 3 concentration. View Full-Text
Keywords: alpha radiation; radioluminescence; liquid phase luminescence; americium alpha radiation; radioluminescence; liquid phase luminescence; americium
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Kerst, T.; Malmbeck, R.; lal Banik, N.; Toivonen, J. Alpha Radiation-Induced Luminescence by Am-241 in Aqueous Nitric Acid Solution. Sensors 2019, 19, 1602.

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