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Alpha Radiation Illumination

  1. Apr 19, 2015 #1

    Garlic

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    Hello everyone,
    Can alpha emitters cause nearby (gasses or air) to be excited and glow like Radium or Tritium? Is there certain chemicals (maybe like phosphor) that are suitable for it?
     
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  3. Apr 19, 2015 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    Well, radium is an alpha emitter. And does it make air glow? I think it might not. (It will glow in water)
     
  4. Apr 19, 2015 #3

    mfb

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    For solids and liquids it is easy, scintillators work that way. Not sure if you find suitable gases, but I would expect them to exist.
    If your source is active enough, the air starts to glow just from its temperature but then you have other problems.
     
  5. Apr 19, 2015 #4

    Garlic

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    I understand. Can I make a (weak) torchlight using my Am-241 piece?
     
  6. Apr 19, 2015 #5

    mfb

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    I don't know what you mean with "my Am-241 piece", but certainly not.
     
  7. Apr 19, 2015 #6

    Garlic

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    The only radiation source I could find, I dismantled a smoke detector to get it.

    What I wrote was unclear I think, I mean, there are betalight torches that use a beta radiation source (tritium for example) and phosphor. What I'm asking is, can a torch using an alpha emitter (in my case it is a really small piece of americium-with 1 mm diameter) be done? What materials should I use?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Einsteinium#/media/File:Einsteinium.jpg
    Here it shows Einsteinium-253 in a quartz vial that glows because of the alpha radiation.

    Or is Americium-241 too weak to excite materials in order to create a glow?
     
  8. Apr 19, 2015 #7

    Vanadium 50

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    You do realize that you are counting on the original shield and only the original shield to protect you when handling that source. Inhaling or ingesting an alpha source is just about the worst thing you can do with it.

    A smoke detector gives off about 30,000 decays per second. If you let them impinge on a phosphor in a totally dark room with dark adapted eyes, you might see something. It's very unlikely to see anything in daylight.
     
  9. Apr 19, 2015 #8

    mfb

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    Radiation levels that are safe to handle are not suitable for torches. You should not work with radioactive sources without the necessary knowledge how to protect yourself from the radiation, and we won't help you with dangerous activities here.
    I closed the thread.
     
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