Dynamic Enhancement of Nitric Oxide Radioluminescence with Nitrogen Purge
Kerst, Thomas; Toivonen, Juha (2019-09-25)
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Remote detection of alpha radiation is commonly realised by collecting the light, the radioluminescence, that is produced when alpha particles are stopped in air. Radioluminescence of nitric oxide (NO) is primarily emitted between 200 nm and 300 nm, which makes it possible to use it for remote detection under daylight conditions. Quenching by ambient oxygen and water vapour, however, makes it generally difficult to effectively create NO radioluminescence. We present the detection of intense NO radioluminescence in ambient air under standard indoor lighting conditions using a nitrogen purge. The nitrogen contained NO impurities that were intrinsic to the gas and had not explicitly been added. We study the mechanisms that govern the NO radioluminescence production and introduce a model to describe the dynamics of the process. The level of NO contained in the gas was found to determine how successful a purge can be. We conclude by discussing possible applications of the technique in nitrogen-flushed gloveboxes at nuclear facilities where NO concentration of 100 ppb-1 ppm would be sufficient for efficient optical alpha radiation detection in standard lighting conditions.
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