What Material Stops Radiation Best?

Rob Cortinas
4 min readNov 12, 2022

Different materials react differently to different types of radiation. For example, tungsten attenuates gamma radiation, but can also emit secondary gamma rays when exposed to neutrons. Lead, on the other hand, is one of the strongest materials for attenuating gamma radiation. For stopping neutrons, the best materials are high-density concrete and borated polyethylene.

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Lead is an excellent radiation shielding material because it is dense, meaning there are many atoms per unit volume. When penetrating radiation hits lead, it collides with the atoms, causing it to lose energy. Gamma rays, for instance, have a large amount of energy and therefore tend to lose their energy when they hit lead. Similarly, x-rays do not easily penetrate lead, because lead atoms are close together, meaning more electrons get involved in the interaction.

Several computer simulations were used to test the ability of lead to stop radiation. They investigated the transmission of various types of photons, with different energies. They found that lead’s absorbing ability depends on whether there’s a photoelectric effect within the shielding material. This resulted in a sharp increase in shielding efficiency.

Bismuth trioxide

Bismuth trioxide is a lightweight, durable, and highly effective shielding material. It has great potential as a replacement for existing radiation shielding materials, and can be manufactured quickly. In addition to being lightweight, it is also effective at shielding against gamma and ionizing radiation.

Bismuth, a chemical element with the symbol Bi and atomic number 83, is a pnictogen and naturally diamagnetic. It shares these properties with its lighter group 15 siblings. It occurs naturally in two forms: the sulfide and oxide. When freshly produced, bismuth has a silvery-white color. Further oxidation, however, results in an iridescent appearance. This is because of the interference between different wavelengths of light. The substance also gives off yellow fumes.

Bismuth is widely used in various applications. It can be found in food, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals. It is even used to treat diarrhea. Bismuth alloys are also relatively low in toxicity, and are a replacement for lead alloys.

Styrene-butadiene rubber/molybdenum oxide composite

Radiation has a strong influence on the physical properties of materials, such as mechanical, chemical, and electrical resistance. Some materials are better able to resist radiation than others. For example, Styrene-butadiene rubber is a highly resilient material. Moreover, this material is resistant to ozone and radiation.

The performance of Styrene-butadiene-rubber/molybdenum oxide composite was measured using a vulcanizing apparatus and an internal mixer. The process used to make the material was ASTM D-3182-compliant. A Monsanto-oscillating disk cure meter Model ODR-2000E was used to measure the vulcanization properties of the material. The rubber sheets were vulcanized with a PHI Co. hydraulic hot press Model G236H. The vulcanizing dose and the presence of coagents affected crosslinking. However, high-dose radiation caused scission, which resulted in decreased tensile strength.

Epoxy resin

Epoxy resin is an excellent choice for radiation shielding applications. Its properties include dimensional stability, high hardness, low shrinkage, excellent adhesion to various reinforcements, and excellent chemical and thermal resistance. It is a highly efficient material for radiation shielding, and it is also used extensively in the atomic energy field.

The study used a Q2000 modulated differential scanning calorimeter to evaluate the thermal and mechanical properties of the composites. The composites were heated at a rate of 2 degC/min, with a modulation of one degree. The samples were also characterized by scanning electron microscopy. Then, the epoxy nanocomposites were tested by performing a lap shear test with tensile loads.

For further testing, the researchers compared the performance of the composites with the presence of heavy metal powders. These powders are added to the epoxy resin to make it more effective as a radiation shield. The researchers found that the epoxy resin showed the best radiation shielding properties when compared to carbon fiber and glass.

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