Polymer Nanowire Compositions for the Detection of Ionizing Radiation

Applications

This technology is a novel sensor for real-time detection of ionizing radiation. The sensor platform is applicable in energy, national security, biological, and nuclear research, as well as monitoring the decomposition of materials in space.  This method can be used in smart packaging and can be read wirelessly using RFID technology.

Problem Addressed

Sensors measuring ionizing radiation (e.g., gamma rays, neutrons, etc.) are essential to the construction of dosimeters - systems that measure radiation absorption in a substance. Due to an inability to produce real-time signals, current sensors are not suitable for implementation in dosimeters and other radiation detection technologies. Furthermore, conventional sensors are expensive to manufacture, must be taken to a separate reader for analysis, suffer from low sensitivity, and/or have a large form factor.

Technology

This technology comprises of a blended polymer and multiwalled carbon nanotube (MWCNT) structure. The polymer composes of Poly(olefin sulfone), a copolymer and sulfur dioxide material that changes its polymerization characteristic upon exposure to ionizing radiation. The polymer material insulates a network of MWCNT. When the sensor interacts with ionizing radiation, the polymer degrades though an amplified non-linear process and increases the conductance of the MWCNT network. This change in conductance can produce a real-time signal with the help of a signal generator, enabling in situ detection and measurement of ionizing radiation.

Advantages

  • Real-time ionizing radiation detection through polymer and MWCNT structure
  • Inexpensive and room temperature operating sensor
  • Modular design for small form factor, high-sensitivity applications