Practical Applications of Radioactivity and Nuclear Radiations

25 January 2002

by G C Lowenthal and P L Airey, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0521553059.


At a time when applications of nuclear and particle physics are gaining ground in environmental sciences, life sciences, nuclear energy and materials research, this book is a welcome new arrival. Mainly it addresses practical applications in industry, but it also covers medical and energy sciences. The development of novel concepts in radiation detection and particle accelerators for basic subatomic physics, with potential for future applied use, make it particularly timely.

The first half of the book is dedicated to the basics of nuclear physics for non-expert readers. For this reason, some of the latest phenomena are not covered and the terminology is not always in line with that of the most recent literature of nuclear science. The book provides information for practical work with radionuclides, including the basics of radioactive decays, interaction of radiation with matter and radiation detectors. The guiding principles for working with radioactive sources in both industrial and laboratory environments are well covered. Procedures for estimating dose rates in different environments are also discussed. Measurements and results receive attention, with the book providing guidance for data analysis from radiation measurements.

Applications in industry and the environment are covered in the second half of the book. There is a detailed description of techniques based on the interaction of radiation with matter, using examples covering transmission, scattering, absorption and activation by beta particles, protons, alpha particles, photons and neutrons. Applications discussed include paper analysis, moisture meters, neutron radiography, multi-element analysis, sterilization and polymerization. Radiotracer techniques are also broadly covered, with detailed formulation in flow measurements with radioactive tracer isotopes. Radionuclides in the environment are covered, both for naturally occurring and for man-made radioisotopes.

In short, this book is a sound addition to the limited literature dealing with applications of radioactivity and radionuclides. It also serves as a useful reference source for those working professionally with accelerators and radioisotopes.

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