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BY 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access November 22, 2023

Preparation of newly developed porcelain ceramics containing WO3 nanoparticles for radiation shielding applications

  • Dalal A. Aloraini , Mohammad Ibrahim Abualsayed EMAIL logo , Aljawhara H. Almuqrin and Mohamed Elsafi
From the journal Open Chemistry

Abstract

We fabricated porcelain ceramics embedded with WO3 nanoparticles (NPs) for radiation shielding applications. The linear attenuation coefficients were experimentally determined to study the efficiency of the manufactured samples against gamma rays. When the thickness increases from 0.5 to 2 cm, there is a reduction in the photon transmission through the ceramics. At 0.662 MeV, the transmission factor for Porc-1 changes from 0.91 (thickness: 0.5 cm) to 0.83 (thickness: 1 cm), and to 0.69 (thickness: 2 cm). From I/I 0 results, we found that attenuation performance is improved as the sample thickness increases. We evaluated the mass attenuation coefficient (MAC) and examined the influence of the concentration of WO3 NPs on the MAC. We found that Porc-5 which contains a greater quantity of WO3 NPs compared to the other samples has the highest MAC. At 0.06 MeV, the HVL (half value layer) for Porc-1 is 1.063 cm, while at 1.333 MeV this increases to 5.247 cm. Meanwhile, for Porc-2, at 0.06 MeV, a thin layer of thickness 0.806 cm is required to shield 50% of the photons, and at 1.333 MeV, the thickness of the layer must increase to 5.058 cm to shield the photons.

1 Introduction

Nanotechnology is among the fastest rapidly developing areas of science, and it already has applications in a wide variety of areas. The term “nano-electronics” refers to the application of nanotechnology in electronic equipment pieces that have a size range from 1 to 100 nm. Radiation of varying types is constantly being emitted from all electrical devices that have been manufactured by humans. The development of electronic devices and the growing inclusion of electronic components could have an unintended impact on the component’s susceptibility to radiation exposure. One form of electromagnetic radiation is referred to as gamma rays. These gamma photons are able to be produced from the nuclei of certain radioactive elements, which results in the radioactive degradation of materials [1].

Because of their extremely high energy, gamma photons are able to go through virtually any material. They can penetrate the teeth, bones, and skin, where they cause harm to living cells and produce genetic abnormalities that can lead to cancer. Gamma photons may affect numerous electrical equipment [2,3]. For instance, the sensitivity of computer circuits and diodes to gamma photons is significantly high. Through the use of Monte Carlo simulations, when exposed to excessive amounts of radiation, the efficiency of electronic components deteriorates and eventually stops altogether. Several different approaches have been explored as a means of protecting electrical devices against gamma radiation [4,5,6,7,8,9].

Moreover, certain electronic equipment may be strengthened so they are less harmed by larger doses of ionizing radiation by providing shielding with radiation-reluctant materials. This would make the devices more resistant to the effects of higher levels of gamma radiation [10]. Protective shielding made of tungsten or lead is the only way that most electronic components can continue to operate normally in radioactive environments. The interaction of radiation with protective materials is designated by several key parameters, such as the attenuation coefficients [11,12,13,14,15,16]. The radiation shielding qualities of a variety of glasses, ceramics, and polymers are documented in the published research [17,18,19,20,21,22,23]. Due to the numerous physical and chemical properties that ceramics possess, they are currently the materials of choice in the industrial sector. Ceramics are one of different types of materials that have been proven to be acceptable for use in numerous latest protection applications [24].

In general, it is possible to produce ceramics by mixing two or more elements, at least one of which should be a nonmetallic solid, and the other elements can either be metals or other nonmetallic solids. Ceramic samples can be made in this manner in several different ways. The production of ceramics typically involves the application of pressure or heat, and in some instances, the application of both factors simultaneously. Numerous implementations of composites based on ceramics have shown their effectiveness in advanced technology, including optical communications, electronic devices, and other technological sectors [25]. Ceramics are one of the ideal mediums for radiation protection because of the desirable properties that they possess, including a low dielectric constant, low thermal expansion, good oxidation resistance, and high melting point [26].

It is possible to incorporate additives like tungsten nanoparticles (NPs) into the ceramics in order to enhance the ceramics’ ability to shield radiation. Therefore, the primary emphasis of this research was placed on the utilization of ceramics with WO3 NPs that are inexpensive and simple to produce in radiation shielding applications. We selected NPs as, when compared to micro-sized particles, it is generally considered that nano-sized particles are capable of dispersing more equally inside the matrix with fewer agglomerations, hence enhancing the radiation shielding capacity of the material [27].

Since WO3 NPs have a high density and high atomic number, they can interact with the photons through multiple mechanisms. Accordingly, it has been demonstrated that WO3 NPs have good radiation shielding performance. The application of WO3 NPs for radiation shielding in several fields has gained popularity recently due to their many benefits over conventional lead-based shielding materials, including reduced weight, toxicity, and improved machinability. In the literature, several studies have used WO3 NPs to produce new radiation shielding materials. For example, Elsafi et al. [28] found that WO3 NPs could be incorporated into epoxy with waste marble to produce composites with excellent radiation shielding properties. Moreover, Eyssa et al. [12] prepared polyethylene composites containing WO3 and Bi2O3 NPs. The authors reported an improved radiation shielding ability of the polyethylene composites with the addition of WO3 NPs. Also, Zali et al. [14] prepared and investigated the gamma radiation shielding features of silicon-based composites incorporated with WO3 micro- and NPs. The authors found that composites with WO3 NPs have better performance in shielding gamma radiation in comparison with the composites with WO3-micro size. Recently, Gouda et al. [16] prepared polyethylene with different nano-sizes and Bulk WO3. The authors measured the linear attenuation coefficient (LAC) and different energies and compared the samples with micro- and nano-WO3.

In this study, the authors fabricated new porcelain ceramics embedded with WO3 NPs for radiation shielding application. The LACs and other shielding parameters were determined to study the efficiency of the manufactured samples against gamma rays.

2 Materials and methods

2.1 Raw materials

Kaolin, ball clay, sand, and feldspar were obtained locally from chosen places in Egypt [29]. The oxide compositions for used raw materials were carried out using EDX analysis, and the results are reported in Table 1. The required quantity of each raw material was extracted for sample preparation. A ball mill was employed to dry and crush the sand. Then, it was dried and sieved with a 50 μm mesh. In order to enable the impurities to rest at the base of the bowl, the ball clay was immersed in water for approximately 3 days. Then, the water was absorbed. Next, direct sunlight was utilized for drying purposes, after which the dried sample was ground and sieved with a 50 μm mesh. Kaolin was extracted as a white powder and was passed through a 60 μm mesh. To facilitate the formation of a fine powder, the feldspar was sieved with an 80 µm mesh, where the sieve sizes were chosen based on the size of the granules that showed improved porcelain strength [30].

Table 1

Oxide compositions of raw materials used in this work

Oxide Kaolin (%) Ball clay (%) Sand (%) Feldspar (%)
MgO 0.99 0.32 0.67 0.32
Al2O3 31.53 21.08 2.88 19.72
SiO2 55.26 64.26 91.21 63.55
CaO 0.89 0.31 1.41 0.39
TiO2 0.76 1.7 0.29 0.58
Fe2O3 1.12 3.16 1.72 0.19
Na2O 0.53 0.32 0.47 0.99
K2O 1.82 0.81 0.47 10.11
LIO 7.10 8.04 0.88 4.15

2.2 WO3 NPs

WO3 NPs were prepared chemically at Nano Gate Company in Egypt; the average particle size was determined by Transmission electron microscope (TEM) and the results showed the average size was 30 ± 5 nm as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1 
                  TEM image of WO3 NPs: (a) 100 nm scale and (b) 200 nm scale.
Figure 1

TEM image of WO3 NPs: (a) 100 nm scale and (b) 200 nm scale.

2.3 Sample formulation

Table 2 presents the proportions employed to obtain five different mixtures. For the homogeneity of the sample, they were mixed well using a ball mill for half an hour, then 15 wt% of moisture was added, stirred well, and added into cylindrical molds (radius: 1.5 cm). The samples were then air dried for 2 days, and after a period of time they were inserted into an electric furnace at a temperature of 1,100°C. The temperature was exposed every 50° per min until 1,100°C and the prepared sample was soaked for 1 h at 1,100°C, and then the temperature gradually decreased to reach the room temperature.

Table 2

Percentage of prepared porcelain mixes

Sample code Compositions (wt%)
Kaolin Ball clay Feldspar Sand WO3 NPs
Porc-1 30 30 30 10 0
Porc-2 30 25 30 10 5
Porc-3 30 20 30 10 10
Porc-4 30 15 30 10 15
Porc-5 30 10 30 10 20

2.4 Gamma-ray attenuation coefficients

The porcelain samples’ radiation shielding properties were experimentally measured via three radioactive point sources: Am-241, Cs-137, and Co-60. The HPGe detector (relative efficiency: 24%; energy resolution: 1.91 keV) was employed for the detection of the emitted photons from different sources both within and without the porcelain sample. Figure 2 shows the experimental setup’s geometry. The Genie 2000 software supported the calculation of the count rate in the absence (N 0 or I 0) and presence (N or I) of porcelain. The spectra for with and without the Proc-5 ceramic sample at 0.662 MeV are shown in Figure 3 as examples. The experimental calculation of the LAC was according to ref. [31]:

(1) LAC = 1 x ln N 0 N

Figure 2 
                  The geometry of the experimental work.
Figure 2

The geometry of the experimental work.

Figure 3 
                  The relation between the ratio I/I
                     0 and the thickness of the prepared porcelain samples at different energies.
Figure 3

The relation between the ratio I/I 0 and the thickness of the prepared porcelain samples at different energies.

In terms of the other shielding parameter-based LAC calculations, namely the half-value layer (HVL), tenth-value layer (TVL), and radiation absorption rate (RAR) parameters, previous works [32,33] reported these factors’ definitions and laws, with their mathematical expressions given by

(2) HVL , cm = ln ( 2 ) LAC

(3) TVL , cm = ln ( 10 ) LAC

(4) RAR , % = [ 1 N 0 N ] × 100

3 Results and discussion

Figure 3 shows the relation between the ratio N/N 0 or I/I 0, (where N/N 0 = I/I 0) and the thickness of the newly produced samples at different energies that span from low to high. Figure 3 is significant because it is not only used to compute the LAC of the samples but also in understanding the transmission of photons through a new material. The slope helps to find the LAC at a certain energy. The graph indicates that I/I 0 gets smaller as the thickness increases. At 0.662 MeV (as an example), for Porc-1, the I/I 0 changes from 0.91 (thickness: 0.5 cm) to 0.83 (thickness: 1 cm), to 0.76 (thickness: 1.5 cm) and to 0.69 (thickness: 2 cm). This demonstrated that the photons’ transmission through Porc-1 reduces as the thickness changes from 0.5 to 2 cm. This is also correct for the other prepared samples (i.e., Porc-2 to Proc-5). In other words, the analyzed’ attenuation performance of the samples is improved as the sample thickness increases. It is also noticed that the difference in the I/I 0 between different samples is notably at 0.06 MeV, while this difference is small at other energies.

Figure 4 displays a plot of the mass attenuation coefficient (MAC) values obtained with the I/I 0 for the prepared samples. The following ordering may be observed in the MAC values of the ceramic samples, as shown in the figure: Porc-5 > Porc-4 > Porc-3 > Porc-2 > Porc-1. This is because Porc-5 contains a greater quantity of WO3 NPs compared to the other samples, in addition to having a higher density. Since the concentration of WO3 NPs increases as we move from Porc-1 to Porc-5, we can deduce that the MAC is on an upward trend. It is known that the MAC is closely tied to the chemical composition (especially the element with high Z) of the shield. The MAC difference between the samples is very substantial at 0.06 MeV, which implies that WO3 NPs have a noticeable effect on the MAC even at low energies. The MAC values at this energy are 0.27, 0.34, 0.42, 0.49, and 0.56 cm2/g for Porc-1, Porc-2, Porc-3, Porc-4, and Porc-5, respectively. This shows that an MAC acts by about two times at 0.06 MeV as a result of the introduction of 20% of WO3 NPs. While, at higher energies, the WO3 NPs have a negligible impact on the MAC, and we found that the MAC values for Porc-1 and Porc-5 at 1.173 MeV are almost the same, in order of 0.0586 cm2/g.

Figure 4 
               MAC values of the prepared porcelain samples at different energies.
Figure 4

MAC values of the prepared porcelain samples at different energies.

The LAC values of the developed samples were studied, and the results at the same energies given in the previous figure, and findings are shown in Figure 5. The LAC indicates how well a layer of glass performs as a radiation shield. If the LAC is high, this indicates that the shield is good at reducing radiation levels. Therefore, the search for a glass with a high LAC has become the primary focus of those working on the development of radiation shielding materials. Figure 5 demonstrates that the LAC is high at low energies and reduces as the energy level increases. It is also possible to state that the prepared samples have a large capacity for attenuation at low energies, but that this capacity decreases as the energy level increases. The Porc-5 sample has the highest LAC due to the highest proportion of WO3 NPs loaded within its structure. The observation that is presented in the MAC figure is supported by this finding. In the same logic, due to the low density of Proc-1 (free WO3 NPs), we found that this sample possesses the lowest LAC. To draw conclusions from the LAC values, the addition of WO3 NPs increases the LAC values. This indicates that an improvement in the radiation shielding has taken place because of the usage of a high amount of WO3 NPs in the samples that have been prepared. The MAC and LAC values with their errors of all prepared porcelain samples at all discussed energies are reported in Table 3.

Figure 5 
               LAC values of the prepared porcelain samples at different energies.
Figure 5

LAC values of the prepared porcelain samples at different energies.

Table 3

MAC and LAC values with their uncertainty

Energy (MeV) LAC (1/cm)
Porc-1 Porc-2 Porc-3 Porc-4 Porc-5
0.060 0.6523 ± 0.0021 0.8601 ± 0.0019 1.0836 ± 0.0014 1.3248 ± 0.0017 1.5860 ± 0.0012
0.662 0.1853 ± 0.0018 0.1935 ± 0.0023 0.2023 ± 0.0022 0.2118 ± 0.0011 0.2221 ± 0.0011
1.173 0.1410 ± 0.0011 0.1463 ± 0.0008 0.1521 ± 0.0018 0.1583 ± 0.0009 0.1651 ± 0.0007
1.333 0.1321 ± 0.0009 0.1370 ± 0.0015 0.1424 ± 0.0013 0.1481 ± 0.0024 0.1544 ± 0.0023
Energy (MeV) MAC (cm2 g−1)
Porc-1 Porc-2 Porc-3 Porc-4 Porc-5
0.060 0.2710 0.3443 0.4174 0.4903 0.5630
0.662 0.0770 0.0775 0.0779 0.0784 0.0788
1.173 0.0586 0.0586 0.0586 0.0586 0.0586
1.333 0.0549 0.0549 0.0548 0.0548 0.0548

Figure 6 exhibits a graphical representation of the HVL for the newly developed samples as a function of the energy. As a rule, the HVL will be higher if the energy level is higher. For Porc-1, the HVL is only 1.063 cm at 0.06 MeV, which increases to 5.247 cm when the energy becomes 1.333 MeV. Also, for Porc-2, at 0.06 MeV, a thin layer of thickness 0.806 cm is required to shield 50% of the photons, but at an energy of 1.333 MeV, the thickness of the layer must increase to 5.058 cm. This linear tendency arises because the radiations with higher energies have a tendency to pass through the samples more easily than photons with lower energies, necessitating a bigger thickness in order to reduce the same amount of radiation. Additionally, we are able to evaluate the possibility of the HVL values being affected by the quantity of WO3 NPs present. The HVL values decrease in the samples as the amount of WO3 NPs that they contain increases. This can be understood by considering the relationship that exists between the HVL of the material and its density. Because a greater number of photons will interact with the thick sample when the density of the sample is increased by the incorporation of WO3 NPs, we require a sample that is relatively thin for a reduction of the incoming photons’ intensity by a factor of 50. Therefore, HVL is reduced because of the incorporation of WO3 NPs. In other words, Porc-1, which contains the lowest content of WO3 NPs has the greatest HVL, whereas due to the high amount of WO3 NPs present in Porc-5, it has the smallest HVL. If we numerically compare the influence of WO3 NPs on the HVL values, we found that increasing the WO3 NPs content from 0 to 20% decreases the HVL from 1.063 to 0.437 cm at 0.06 MeV and from 3.740 to 3.121 cm at 0.662 MeV. The Porc-5 sample is the one with the highest WO3 NP content; hence, this sample has the potential to utilize the least amount of space compared to the other samples that were analyzed.

Figure 6 
               HVL values of the prepared porcelain samples.
Figure 6

HVL values of the prepared porcelain samples.

The relationship between the TVL of the new materials and the energy is depicted in Figure 7. Because the Porc-1 sample does not contain W, which has a high atomic number, it has a TVL that is significantly larger than that of the other samples. This is because W is one of the elements that contributes to the sample’s composition. Similar to HVL, Porc-5 has smaller TVL in comparison with the other fabricated samples. For Porc-1, the TVL takes the following values: 3.530, 12.424, 16.330, and 17.431 cm. The high dependence on the TVL and the energy is obvious since the TVL increases very quickly from 3.53 to 17.431 cm as the energy increases from 0.06 to 1.33 MeV. Therefore, we can state that a thin sample can be used as an effective layer to absorb the low-energy radiation. At low energy, WO3 NPs have a notable impact on the TVL and this is in agreement with the HVL findings. At 0.06 MeV, the TVL changes from 3.53 to 1.452 cm due to the incorporation of 20% of WO3 NPs, but only changes from 12.424 to 10.369 cm at 0.662 MeV.

Figure 7 
               TVL values of the prepared porcelain samples at different energies.
Figure 7

TVL values of the prepared porcelain samples at different energies.

Figure 8 shows a plot of RAR vs energy for each of the five produced samples. With the help of this parameter, we can investigate the attenuation pattern exhibited by these samples. When the energy is increased, the RAR reduces for each of the prepared samples. This can be understood because the likelihood of a photon interacting with the sample decreases as the energy of the radiation being emitted increases, where more photons are attenuated by the thick sample. Based on the information presented in Figure 6, we can conclude that using high concentrations of WO3 NPs is one of the most efficient methods for increasing the samples’ ability to shield radiation. This is because Porc-5 has higher RAR values than the rest of the prepared samples. Given the sizeable disparity in RAR that exists between various samples, we are also able to establish that the RPE values at low energies are highly dependent on the total amount of WO3 NPs. When the energies are greater, the effect of WO3 NPs on the RAR values, and consequently, the attenuation effectiveness of the samples, is much less pronounced.

Figure 8 
               RAR values of the prepared porcelain samples at different energies.
Figure 8

RAR values of the prepared porcelain samples at different energies.

4 Conclusion

We prepared porcelain ceramics embedded with WO3 NPs for radiation shielding applications. The radiation shielding properties of porcelain samples were experimentally measured by using some radioactive point sources and the HPGe detector. We determined the ratio I/I 0, which is an important factor in determining the LAC and other parameters. From I/I 0, we found that the transmission of the photons through the porcelain ceramics reduces when the thickness increases from 0.5 to 2 cm. The difference in the ratio (I/I 0) for the porcelain ceramics with different amounts of WO3 NPs is notably at 0.06 MeV, while this difference is smaller at the other energies. From the LAC results, we concluded that porcelain ceramics have a large capacity for attenuation at low energies, and this capacity decreases as the energy level increases. Moreover, introducing WO3 NPs increases the LAC values, which indicates that an improvement in the radiation shielding has taken place because of the usage of a high amount of WO3 NPs in porcelain ceramics. We also discussed the impact of WO3 on the TVL and we found that adding more WO3 to the porcelain ceramics causes a reduction in the TVL. For Porc-1, the TVL for Porc-1 takes the following values: 3.530, 12.424, 16.330, and 17.431 cm. From the TVL results, a thin sample can be used as an effective layer to absorb the low-energy radiation.

Acknowledgment

The authors express their gratitude to Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University Researchers Supporting Project number (PNURSP2023R57), Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

  1. Funding information: The authors express their gratitude to the Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University Researchers Supporting Project number (PNURSP2023R57), Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

  2. Author contributions: D.A.A.: funding acquisition, writing – review and editing. A.H.A.: project administration, funding acquisition. M.I.A.: conceptualization, data curation, supervision, original draft preparation. M.E.: investigation, formal analysis, writing – review and editing, original draft preparation. 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: 2023-06-04
Revised: 2023-10-18
Accepted: 2023-11-08
Published Online: 2023-11-22

© 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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