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BY 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access April 10, 2023

Influence of WO3 content on gamma rays attenuation characteristics of phosphate glasses at low energy range

  • Aljawhara H. Almuqrin and Mohammad Ibrahim Abualsayed EMAIL logo
From the journal Open Chemistry


The radiation attenuation characteristics of WO3-Li2O-ZnO-P2O5 glasses have been examined using Phy-X software. The linear attenuation coefficient is correspondingly increased with the inclusion of WO3, which indicates the existence of a reducing tendency in the photon transmission correlating with an increment in the WO3 content in the glasses. When density is increased, there is a considerable reduction in the half-value layer (HVL), which is most noticeable between 80 and 100 keV. Because the HVL reaches high values at 100 keV for the samples, it can be deduced that the HVL steadily increases as the energy increases. Additionally, increasing the amount of WO3 in the glasses causes the mean free path (MFP) to decrease. The MFP for the glasses was compared with that of different heavy concretes, and the comparison demonstrated that the chosen systems have the potential to be used for the fabrication of protection masks that are utilized during diagnostic radiation treatment. We determined the ratio between the tenth value layer for the free-WO3 sample and the sample with 10 mol% and we found that the ratio is higher than 1, which suggests that the tenth value layer is decreased with the addition of WO3 to the glasses.

1 Introduction

Ionizing radiations are used for surgery, radiology, and diagnostic testing in the dentistry and healthcare industries. The tissues and organs close to the treatment region are typically exposed to photons during therapeutic and diagnostic operations, which might have negative impacts on live cells or the human body. Health care workers and physicians are needed to wear appropriate protective clothing, such as masks, lead vests, gloves, and aprons, in order to decrease the risks from this form of radiation. Lead is the primary component of such protecting composites in commercial applications owing to its high density and ability to totally attenuate the photons [1,2,3,4,5]. Lead, in general, has a number of significant downsides, the most notable of which are its toxicity and its weight (the mass of a lead apron can range anywhere from 5 to 8 kg). As a consequence of this, it is unavoidable that members of the health workers who wear the apron for lengthy periods of time would eventually experience discomfort in their knees and/or backs. As a result of this, material experts are exerting a significant amount of effort to come up with innovative, non-toxic, lead-free protective technologies. Such alternative materials should exhibit a number of qualities, such as malleability and flexibility, in addition to being lightweight and very efficient in the attenuation of ionizing radiations [6,7,8,9,10]. During the manufacturing process of protective materials, the incorporation of heavy chemical components such as bismuth, barium, antimony, and tungsten is required so that the attenuation capabilities of the protective materials may be improved. Radiation masks, on the other hand, are worn by patients undergoing dental or medical treatment in order to shield their faces from the possible dangers that might arise from prolonged and repeated exposure to photons. It would be inappropriate to make the protective mask out of an opaque material, instead, transparent materials would be preferable to employ in this context due to their greater practicability. Glasses are amorphous materials that may allow light to pass through them, as a result, they are excellent candidates for use in the fabrication of radiation protective masks [11,12,13,14]. The interaction of ionization radiation with various glass systems was the subject of a number of investigations and reports by a variety of scientists. Kaewjaeng et al. [15] manufactured glasses using a B2O3-CaO-SiO2-La2O3 glass system and examined the X-ray shielding capabilities of the generated glasses. They revealed that adding more La2O3 causes an increase in the lead equivalent thickness (LET), whereas raising the kilovoltage peak of the X-ray equipment causes a drop in the LET. Using the MicroShield algorithm, Waly et al. [16] calculated the photon attenuation coefficients for several glasses with heavy element additions ranging from 15 to 300 keV. They found that the glass offers greater photon attenuation in proportion to the amount of Bi2O3 or PbO added to it. According to their results, the glass with the following composition had the lowest photon exposure rate at low energy: 35% PbO, 55% Bi2O3, and 10% SiO2. Tekin et al. [17] conducted research on the effectiveness of boron phosphate glass systems as shielding materials in diagnostic radiological applications. They performed simulation work in order to determine the photon attenuation coefficients for the aforementioned glasses for energies ranging from 60 to 120 keV. In order to assess the viability of utilizing this glass system in medical centers, they analyzed the photon transmission factor and other related factors. The X-ray shielding capabilities of Gd2O3-CaF2-P2O5 glasses were investigated by Hongtong et al. [18], who used the transmission technique to conduct their research. It was noticed that the tenth value layer (TVL) for the samples decreased as the Gd2O3 content raised from 5 to 15 mol%. The researchers showed that this system had superior X-ray attenuation properties at low energies. This was another finding of the researchers.

In this study, phosphate glasses containing WO3 were considered, and their capacity to shield diagnostic X-ray photons (with energies between 30 and 80 keV) was studied. WO3-containing glasses are frequently used in both medical and industrial settings to shield users from dangerous radiation. Glass compositions are an important material for the protection of individuals dealing with or close to sources of ionizing radiation because adding WO3 enhances their radiation shielding characteristics. Phy-X was applied to evaluate the attenuation characteristics of the two glasses under investigation, and the findings were then compared with those of other materials that are often employed for radiation shielding purposes.

2 Materials and methods

Attenuation properties of X-ray photons were explored in this study at dental diagnostic energies for WO3-Li2O-ZnO-P2O5 glasses between 30 and 100 keV. The following are the constituents of each of the chosen glasses [19]:

W0: 30Li2O-30ZnO-40P2O5, density = 2.91 g/cm3,

W10: 10WO3-25Li2O-25ZnO-40P2O5, density = 3.04 g/cm3,

W20: 20WO3-20Li2O-20ZnO-40P2O5, density = 3.20 g/cm3,

W30: 30WO3-15Li2O-15ZnO-40P2O5, density = 3.37 g/cm3,

W40: 40WO3-10Li2O-10ZnO-40P2O5, density = 3.69 g/cm3,

W50: 50WO3-5Li2O-5ZnO-40P2O5, density = 3.94 g/cm3,

W60: 60WO3-40P2O5, density = 4.41 g/cm3.

The glasses were prepared by the conventional melt-quenching technique as reported by Santic et al. [19], and in the above glasses, increasing the concentrations of WO3 from 0 to 60 mol% caused an enhancement in the density from 2.91 to 4.41 g/cm3.

In order to accomplish the goal of this research, we first analyzed the X-ray attenuation characteristics of various glass systems that were chosen, and afterwards we compared those results with those of other materials that are typically used for shielding radiation. In the next paragraphs, we shall have a quick discussion on the photon attenuation coefficients.

When X-ray photons pass through an absorber, a portion of the photons are absorbed by the attenuator, and the remaining photons continue past the attenuator.

The Beer–Lambert law is an appropriate equation that may be utilized to characterize the attenuation that has taken place for photons:

(1) I = I 0 e μ x .

Information about the attenuation capability of the material may be gleaned from the preceding relation. µ is a measure that predicts the degree to which the intensity of a photon of a given energy would decrease as it passes through a sample [20].

The mass attenuation coefficient, often known as µ/ρ, is an additional valuable parameter that may be used to measure the capacity of a medium to absorb photons. The mixing rule is a straightforward technique to compute µ/ρ for any given energy for a sample that is composed of many elements (such as Li, O, Zn, P, and W in the specified glass system), namely,

(2) μ / ρ = i w i ( μ / ρ ) i .

The MAC results of the W0–W60 samples were estimated via the Phy-X program [21] for the examined energies, which were dental diagnostic energies.

It is important to note that the medium has strong attenuation capabilities if it has high values for the two characteristics that were discussed before.

Half-value layer, often abbreviated as HVL, is a practical measurement that determines how thick an attenuator should be to reduce the intensity of photons to 1/2 of their original amount. The mathematical representation of HVL looks like the following formula:

(3) HVL = 0 . 693 μ .

In general, for the glass sample to be able to provide effective protection against photons, it must have heavy components. This allows the photons to more easily interact with the atoms in the sample. Attenuating the intensity of the incoming photons is made easier by the presence of WO3 in our glass systems (as discussed in Section 3).

Mean free path (MFP), often known as the reciprocal of µ, is a density-dependent quantity. It can be represented as follows:

(4) MFP = 1 μ .

There are various studies that discuss in full the physical description of the aforementioned parameters that may be found in the published literature [22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29,30].

3 Results and discussion

The μ for the W0–W60 glasses is shown in Figure 1. Based on the graphs, it can be shown that μ increases in a proportionate manner when WO3 is added, going from 0 to 60 mol%. This may be explained by the fact that the density of the material rises along with the WO3 concentration, and it is well established that the level of µ is directly proportional to the density of the material. For instance, as a result of an increase in the density in the selected series from 2.91 to 4.41 g/cm3, µ improved from 9.53 to 57.91 cm−1 when the energy was 30 keV, and from 4.42 to 27.30 cm−1 at 40 keV. These data suggest that there is a trend toward a decrease in the photon transmission, which corresponds with an increase in the level of WO3 contained in the samples. So, the shielding capacity of the proposed phosphate-based glasses has been improved by the incorporation of WO3. Hence, we can conclude that the highly dense specimen may be utilized as an alternate face shield while diagnostic radiation of the oral cavity and head and can successfully absorb the X-ray photons. It is clear from looking at Figure 1 that energy seems to be another variable that contributes to the attenuation that occurs with the samples. The first thing to note is that µ is high, which indicates that the attenuation is quite great. The photoelectric process is strongly dependent on the Z, and since the W element has a major input on this mechanism at low energy, we observed high linear attenuation coefficient (LAC) values at 30 keV. Also, for the same reason, we observed the high difference in µ between the free WO3 sample (i.e., W0) and other remaining samples which contain WO3 (i.e., W10–W60).

Figure 1 
               The LAC of WO3-Li2O-ZnO-P2O5 glasses.
Figure 1

The LAC of WO3-Li2O-ZnO-P2O5 glasses.

In addition, some encouraging results are shown in Figure 2 when µ of W50 and W60 glasses are compared to that of other protective materials that are typically applied. Because W50 and W60 samples have the greatest LAC in the selected series, we decided to select these two glasses and compare them with ferrite concrete [31], erbium zinc tellurite (coded as D5in Figure 2) [32], barium–bismuth–borosilicate (coded as G5 in Figure 2) [33], and RS 360 [34] glasses. It is abundantly obvious that W50 and W60 possess a greater µ than ferrite, and it is also evident that W60 has a higher µ than RS 360.

Figure 2 
               The LAC of WO3-Li2O-ZnO-P2O5 glasses in comparison with other materials.
Figure 2

The LAC of WO3-Li2O-ZnO-P2O5 glasses in comparison with other materials.

The connection between HVL and sample density for glass systems including WO3-Li2O-ZnO-P2O5 is depicted in Figure 3, which covers the range of 30–100 keV. This drop in HVL is particularly noticeable between 80 and 100 keV, as shown by the figure, which demonstrates that the HVL lowers as the density improves. The denser the material specimen, the smaller the HVL, and the more effectively it may be employed as X-ray protective materials because of this property. This variable may properly quantify the impact of WO3 concentration on the absorption potential of the phosphate glasses towards X-rays. As was to be predicted, the HVL is greatly influenced by the density of the specimen. The heavier component in the samples (tungsten) presents a bigger target for the photons to attack, and as a result, the probabilities of interactions are quite large and rise with the greater quantity of WO3 available. Therefore, the reduction in the intensity of the photons ought to be quite high, and the photons ought to have a lower likelihood of passing through higher densities sample. This information provides an explanation for the relatively low HVL for W60 glass. This observation is in line with the findings of Agar et al. [35], who found that the HVL for phosphate glasses with MoO3 and BaO decreases when increasing the density. Ersundu et al. [36] came to the exact same result in their study. In addition, we may deduce from Figure 3 that the smallest HVL occurs at energy of 30 keV. The HVL at this energy is varied between 0.073 cm for W0 and 0.012 cm for W60. Then, the HVL increases up to 60 keV, and then it shows a sudden decrease at 80 keV. The sudden decrease in the HVL at 80 keV is due to the high LAC at this energy since this is close to the K-absorption edge of W which occurs exactly at 69.53 keV. This is true for all glasses with the exception of the W0 (free WO3). In light of this, it can be deduced that the HVL will steadily grow as the energy of the photons increases (with expectation at 80 keV). An increase in the HVL for W10 (for example) is found from 0.036 to 0.214 cm as the energy goes up from 30 to 60 keV, while it changes between 0.214 and 0.144 cm between 60 and 80 keV and finally reaches 0.242 cm at 100 keV. The current dependency of HVL on energy shows that there is a considerable rise in the penetration strength of photons with a raise in the energy of the photons themselves. Figure 3 clearly reveals that there is a significant shift in the HVL between the energies of 30 and 40 keV. According to the information presented here, it appears that increasing the thickness of the specimen is recommended for those applications that need radiation with energy higher than 40 keV.

Figure 3 
               The HVL of WO3-Li2O-ZnO-P2O5 glasses.
Figure 3

The HVL of WO3-Li2O-ZnO-P2O5 glasses.

When compared to other materials used in nuclear engineering, the MFP of the W0–W60 glasses is plotted in Figures 4 and 5, respectively, at 30 and 80 keV. For the purpose of making a comparison, the materials utilized are the commercially available glass that has 71 mol% lead (it is designated with the label RS-520 and has a density of 5.2 g/cm3) [34] and certain concretes with a high density (steel-scrap, steel magnetite, and ferro boron concrete) [37,38]. It can be seen from these figures that increasing the amount of WO3 in the glasses resulted in a drop in MFP at both 30 and 80 keV (this is additionally valid at other energies that were studied, but the findings were not shown). The results from the HVL test are consistent with the observation that W60 has the smallest MFP of all the specimens that are being analyzed. This is due to the fact that WO3 enhances the density of the materials, which is connected to µ, while MFP is indeed the inverse of µ. It can be shown from Figures 4 and 5 that the three heavy concretes have a greater MFP than W40–W60 glasses. This suggests that the chosen phosphate glasses with large levels of WO3 can be utilized as protective glasses. According to the findings, the MFP of the W40–W60 samples is smaller compared to the RS-520. Whereas W0 has an MFP that is significantly greater than all the samples of glass and concrete by two figures due to the absence of WO3,

Figure 4 
               The MFP of WO3-Li2O-ZnO-P2O5 glasses at 30 keV.
Figure 4

The MFP of WO3-Li2O-ZnO-P2O5 glasses at 30 keV.

Figure 5 
               The MFP of WO3-Li2O-ZnO-P2O5 glasses at 80 keV.
Figure 5

The MFP of WO3-Li2O-ZnO-P2O5 glasses at 80 keV.

We calculated the tenth value layer for all W0–W60 samples, and in order to estimate the influence of adding WO3 to the glasses on the attenuation capability of these glasses, we divide the ratio between the TVL of W0 and W10 (Figure 6) and between W10 and W60 (Figure 7). In both figures, the ratio is higher than 1, which means that the TVL for W10 is lower than W0 (Figure 6) and TVL for W60 is lower than W10 (Figure 7). Numerically, the ratio values in Figure 6 are 1.99, 2.02, 1.99, 1.93, 5.02, and 4.16. While in Figure 7, the values are 3.04, 3.06, 3.04, 2.98, 4.09, and 3.95. At the first three energies, the ratio in Figure 6 is around 2, while it is about 3 in Figure 7. An interesting result is that the ratio at 80 keV is very high in both figures and this is near the K-absorption edge of W, which means that the TVL is very small at this energy.

Figure 6 
               The ratio between the tenth value layer of W0 and W10.
Figure 6

The ratio between the tenth value layer of W0 and W10.

Figure 7 
                The ratio between the tenth value layer of W10 and W60.
Figure 7

The ratio between the tenth value layer of W10 and W60.

In Figure 8, we present the results of Z eff between 30 and 100 keV. For W0, it shows a decreasing trend at the selected energy region and Z eff is varied between 22.90 (at 30 keV) and 13.20 (at 100 keV). While, for the W10–W60 samples, the Z eff shows a decreasing trend with exception at 80 keV, where we noticed that the maximum Z eff is reported at 80 keV. The K-absorption edge is the abrupt rise in X-ray photon photoelectric absorption immediately beyond the k-shell electrons’ binding energy. The energies of each element’s K shell are unique to that element. For tungsten, the K-absorption edge is near 80 keV, because of which we noticed the high values of Z eff for W10–W60.

Figure 8 
               The effective atomic number of WO3-Li2O-ZnO-P2O5 glasses.
Figure 8

The effective atomic number of WO3-Li2O-ZnO-P2O5 glasses.

4 Conclusion

Herein we reported the X-ray attenuation properties of phosphate glasses that contain WO3. When WO3 is added to the selected series, there is a corresponding and proportional increase in µ. This suggests that there is a tendency toward a reduction in the X-ray photon transmission that corresponds to an increase in the sample density. We compared µ of phosphate glass with WO3 with ferrite concrete, erbium zinc tellurite, barium–bismuth–borosilicate, and RS 360 glasses. We found that W50 and W60 possess a greater µ than ferrite, and it is also evident that W60 has a higher µ than RS 360. The HVL decreases with the addition of more WO3 to the samples and this trend is notable between 80 and 100 keV. From the HVL findings, we conclude that the denser the material specimen, the smaller the HVL, and the more effectively it may be employed as X-ray protective materials because of this property. Also, the smallest HVL is reported at an energy of 30 keV. The HVL at this energy is varied between 0.073 cm for W0 and 0.012 cm for W60. The HVL for glass systems increases up to 60 keV and then drops suddenly at 80 keV due to the high LAC near the K-absorption edge of W. As the energy of photons increases, the HVL steadily grows, and an increase in the HVL for W10 is found from 0.036 to 0.242 cm between 30 and 100 keV. From the MFP and HVL, W60 has the smallest MFP of all the specimens that are being analyzed. The comparison between the MFP of the current samples with other materials demonstrated that the chosen phosphate glasses with large levels of WO3 can be utilized as protective glasses. The ratios of TVL between different tungsten oxide concentrations indicate a non-linear relationship between the TVL and WO3 content, with the largest improvements seen at energies close to the K-absorption edge of tungsten.


The authors express their gratitude to the Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University Researchers Supporting Project number (PNURSP2023R2), Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

  1. Funding information: This research was financially supported by the Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University Researchers Supporting Project number (PNURSP2023R2), Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

  2. Author contributions: A.H.A.: supervision, funding acquisition, and software; M.I.A.: writing – original draft preparation, methodology, and software. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.

  3. Conflict of interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

  4. Ethical approval: The conducted research is not related to either human or animal use.

  5. Data availability statement: The data presented in this study are available on request from the corresponding author.


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Received: 2023-01-28
Revised: 2023-02-26
Accepted: 2023-03-02
Published Online: 2023-04-10

© 2023 the author(s), published by De Gruyter

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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