Using Glass Coatings for Radiation Shielding

Radiation shields play a crucial role in various industries, protecting human health and equipment from harmful radiation exposure. Among the materials utilized for this purpose, glass has received substantial interest because of its distinct qualities, like transparency and adaptability, along with its cost-effective production.

This article will examine the application of glass coatings for radiation protection, investigating the scientific basis for their efficiency, the advantages of different added substances, and their wide-ranging use in sectors like nuclear, medical, aerospace, and beyond.

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Advancing Radiation Shielding with Doping

Tailored glass coatings for radiation shielding applications have gained significant attention and research interest in the scientific community. Among the various materials used, borate glasses doped with different oxides have emerged as promising options for enhancing radiation shielding effectiveness.2,3

Doping involves the introduction of specific oxides, particularly heavy metal oxides known for their high densities, into the glass structure. This deliberate addition substantially reinforces the glass's capability to absorb and reduce incoming radiation, making it a crucial component in various industries where radiation protection is essential.

Such specialized glasses have served as radiation shields for many years. For instance, lead glass was initially used in items like protective eyewear due to its ability to absorb gamma, X-Ray, and neutron radiation.

Despite their shielding properties, lead and lead-based compounds have long been linked to adverse health effects and environmental concerns. Another drawback of using lead additives is that the more lead content in the glass, the lower its melting point and the softer it becomes.

In response to these challenges, researchers have been exploring non-toxic alternatives to replace lead in glass compositions, effectively reducing health and environmental risks while maintaining or even enhancing shielding efficiency.

Examples include barium oxide, known for its ability to absorb thermal neutrons and ionizing radiation, minimize secondary radiation, and boost durability in borate glasses; zinc oxide, which not only improves thermal stability and chemical durability but also lessens crystallization in borate glasses, and is valued as an eco-friendly UV absorber; and cadmium oxide, renowned for enhancing density and mechanical properties.2,3

Other studies have indicated that borosilicate-based glasses, composed of silica and boron trioxide, have proven to be more thermally resistant and harder than conventional glass, characteristics that are essential for effective radiation shielding.4

This ongoing search for safer and more effective doping materials underscores the critical importance of developing advanced glass coatings for radiation shielding applications.

Applications of Glass Radiation Shields

The adaptability and exceptional qualities of glass radiation shields have resulted in their broad application in several crucial industries. In the nuclear sector, these shields are employed in windows to offer a clear view for workers to observe and manage radioactive materials during processing.

Doped glasses are presently being researched as potential alternatives to concrete, traditionally used to prevent gamma radiation leakage from nuclear reactors.5

A few significant advantages of glass over concrete are that it is lightweight, easy to handle, and transparent in the visible spectrum, making it the preferred material in many cases.

Additionally, glass's ability to handle various elements further enhances its appeal as an essential component in the nuclear industry.

In the medical field, glass radiation shields provide vital protection in various applications. They are used as hot cells, gloveboxes, and gloves during the production and processing of radiopharmaceuticals or as leaded windows to safeguard radiographers during X-Ray or PET scans.

Outside the medical sector, glass radiation shields serve various purposes, such as airport X-Ray machines and cyclotron maintenance. The range of these applications highlights the critical role of glass coatings in radiation, especially in promoting safety and efficiency across multiple industries.

Aerospace Interest

Aerospace applications are another rapidly growing area of focus, driven by the urgent need to protect people and equipment from various high-energy radiation threats. Coating devices with radiation-blocking materials, like transparent glass or polymer, can safeguard the equipment and extend its lifespan.

The aerospace and defense industries focus on finding solutions to shield electronic equipment from interference caused by electromagnetic radio and radio-frequency (RF) waves, both of which can pose serious safety risks.

As portable electronic devices and embedded electronic systems become more common in aircraft, RF emissions increase, raising concerns about potential interference, data corruption, and other negative effects. There is also a concern about electronic countermeasures, ranging from radar jamming to electromagnetic pulse attacks.6

Currently, research efforts are addressing these aerospace concerns. One notable study introduces an innovative glass-ceramic composite designed to act as a transparent shield against UV radiation in space while protecting living cells and organic dyes from radiation damage on Earth.7

This innovative material consists of cerium oxide, a UV absorber, embedded in a fluorine nanostructure.

This inventive fabrication approach, utilizing microstructure engineering and nanocrystallinization, holds significant promise for advancing radiation shielding technologies in the glass industry.

The aerospace sector is undergoing a profound transformation, with glass coatings emerging as a crucial element in safeguarding aerospace personnel and equipment from a constantly evolving range of high-energy radiation threats.

These advancements are likely to pave the way for groundbreaking developments in this dynamic industry, expanding the frontiers of exploration.

Mo-Sci: Pioneering Glass Solutions

Mo-Sci, as a company, is committed to exploring similar materials with versatile applications across various industries.9 It has strong collaborations with diverse sectors, including healthcare, automotive, energy, and the military, demonstrating their wide-ranging impact on shielding solutions.

Throughout the years, Mo-Sci has developed significant expertise in glass production and processing.10 Working closely with its clients, it assists in taking any material from the prototype stage to commercialization.

References and Further Reading

  1. Sayyed M.I. et al. The influence of PbO and Bi2O3 on the radiation shielding and elastic features for different glasses. Journal of Materials Research and Technology Volume 9, Issue 4, July–August 2020, Pages 8429-8438
  2. Sayyed M.I. et al. Optical and radiation shielding features for a new series of borate glass samples Optik Volume 239, August 2021, 166790
  3. Abouhaswa A.S. et al. Newly designed borate glass system for optical and radiation shielding applications: Multiple effects of CdS on structural, magnetic, optical, mechanical, and photon shielding features. Ceramics International Volume 48, Issue 18, 15 September 2022, Pages 27120-27129
  4. Kilicoglu O. et al. Nuclear radiation shielding performance of borosilicate glasses: Numerical simulations and theoretical analyses Radiation Physics and Chemistry Volume 204, March 2023, 110676
  5. Kaur P. et al. Investigation of bismuth borate glass system modified with barium for structural and gamma-ray shielding properties. Spectrochimica Acta Part A: Molecular and Biomolecular Spectroscopy Volume 206, 5 January 2019, Pages 367-377
  6. Shielding against electromagnetic and RF interference for safety and mission success. Military and Aerospace Electronics July 26, 2016
  7. Zheng B. et al, Glass composite as robust UV absorber for biological protection. Optical Materials Express. Vol. 6, Issue 2, pp. 531-539 (2016)
  8. Mo-Sci. Using Glass for Radiation Shielding. 2020. Using Glass for Radiation Shielding Mo-Sci Corporation.
  9. Radiation Shielding and the Utilization of Glass. News Medical Life Sciences. 2021. Radiation Shielding and the Utilization of Glass (
  10. Mo-Sci. Applications of thin and thick glass films. 2022. Applications of Thin and Thick Glass Films Mo-Sci Corporation

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Mo-Sci.

For more information on this source, please visit Mo-Sci.


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