New smaller, lighter radiation shielding

The new approach is more cost-effective than existing techniques, and the secret ingredient is...

Ionizing radiation can cause critical issues for electronic gadgets. To ensure against this, devices that might be presented to radiation -, for example, devices utilized in the shuttle – incorporate radiation shielding.

Weight is a significant factor in designing aerospace technologies, and the shielding most commonly found in aerospace devices consists of putting an aluminum box around any sensitive technologies. This has been viewed as providing the best tradeoff between a shield’s weight and the protection it provides.

By mixing metal powder- rust — into a polymer, and then incorporating it into a common conformal coating on the associated electronics, scientists from North Carolina State University have developed a new type of radiation shielding. This new approach is smaller, lighter, and more cost-effective than existing techniques.

Rob Hayes, co-author of a paper on the work and an associate professor of nuclear engineering at NC State, said, “Our approach can be used to maintain the same level of radiation shielding and reduce the weight by 30% or more, or you could maintain the same weight and improve shielding by 30% or more — compared to the most widely used shielding techniques.”

“Metal oxide powder offers less shielding than a metal powder would, but oxides are less toxic and don’t pose electromagnetic challenges that could interfere with a device’s operation.”

Mike DeVanzo, a graduate student at NC State and first author on the work said, “Radiation transport calculations show that inclusion of the metal oxide powder provides shielding comparable to a conventional shield. At low energies, the metal oxide powder reduces both gamma radiation to the electronics by a factor of 300 and the neutron radiation damage by 225%.”

This new approach is expected to eliminate the requirement for conventional shielding materials on space-based electronics.

Scientists are continually testing to fine-tune their shielding technique for use in various applications.

The paper describing the approach is presented in the journal Radiation Physics and Chemistry.

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