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Radiation Physics

PERGAMON Radiation Physics and Chemistry 54 (1999) 547±550

Alpha particle absorption and inclined incidence track

parameters evaluation in plastic detectors
M.M. El-Hawary a, M. Mansy b, *, A. Hussein c, A.A. Ammar a,
A.R. El-Sersy b
Faculty of Science, Menou®a University, Shebin El-koam, Egypt
National Institute for Standards, NIS Cairo, Egypt
Faculty of Science, Physics Department, Qatar University, Doha, Qatar
Received 1 November 1997; received in revised form 13 August 1998; accepted 7 September 1998


In this work the use of our recently constructed irradiation chamber was involved in the current experiments. The
absorption of alpha particle in air has been studied through a set of experiments in which the stopping power has
been measured. A comparison between the calculated values and the present experimental results is given and a
good agreement has been found. Critical angle (yc) determination has been carried out using two di€erent
techniques, via indirect and direct measurements, under di€erent etching conditions and at various alpha energies.
An empirical ®t of ycÿh (h is the removal thickness layer) dependence has been calculated and found to work well in
the studied h ranges. Also, the inclined alpha tracks parameters of energies between 1.0 and 5.0 MeV have been
studied. Results can be successfully applicable in alpha autoradiography studies and detector eciency
determination for track registration in plastic recorders. # 1999 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction The critical angle of etching (yc) represents the mini-

mum angle to the detector surface that a track can
Solid state nuclear track detectors (SSNTDs) have make in order to be revealed by etching
been successfully employed in di€erent applications
in science and technology. They have been used in sin yc ˆ 1=V ˆ VB =VT …1†
alpha auto-radiography, radiation dosimetery and
where V is the etch rate ratio, VB is the bulk etch rate
particle identi®cation (Hussein et al., 1989; El-
and VT is the track etch rate (Durrani and Bull, 1987).
Hawary et al., 1995; Ellis, 1986; Singh et al.,
The etching eciency (Z) of a detector is de®ned as the
1988a,b; Suzuki and Tomura, 1990). They have
proportion of tracks etched out expressed as a fraction
many advantages as compared with other detectors.
of particles actually incident on the detector surface.
They are relatively cheap and provide permanent
From the measurements of yc, the etching eciency (Z)
records of events (tracks), as well as proven to oper-
can be determined using the formula
ate successfully under various environmental con-
ditions and have almost no fading under normal Z ˆ 1 ÿ sin yc …2†
storage of temperature and pressure (Todd, 1992;
Abou El-Khier et al., 1993a; Hussein, 1994; Andom, The purpose of the present work was two-fold: (i) to
1992; Abou El-Kheir, 1993b). study the alpha particle absorption through a set of ex-
periments in which the stopping power is measured as
a function of pressure values inside our constructed ir-
* Corresponding author. radiation chamber; (ii) to obtain the critical angle (yc)

0969-806X/99/$ - see front matter # 1999 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
PII: S 0 9 6 9 - 8 0 6 X ( 9 8 ) 0 0 2 9 2 - 8
548 M.M. El-Hawary et al. / Radiation Physics and Chemistry 54 (1999) 547±550

via the VB and VT measurements (indirect method)

and also from a direct way using the irradiation
chamber under di€erent conditions and at di€erent a
energies. The etching eciency (Z) was then determined
by the mean of yc extracted values which re¯ects the
best conditions of the usability of the studied track

2. Experimental

Plastic sheets of CR-39 (TASTRACK), each 500 mm

thick, were used. All samples were irradiated in our
recently constructed irradiation chamber (El-Hawary
et al., 1995) and etched in 6.25 N NaOH at 708C. The
bulk etch rate (VB) was measured using the mass
decrement method (Hussein, 1994). Track parameters
were measured using an optical Olympus microscope
attached to an eye piece micrometer with each divi-
sion = 0.22 mm. Fig. 1. The relation between alpha energy (E) and the press-
ure (P) inside the irradiation chamber at di€erent distances
3. Results and discussion

3.1. Rate of energy loss determination incident at an angle 608 to the surface of the detector.
Both minor and major axes were measured. Figs 3 and
The air molecules were used as a stopping medium for 4 show the variation of minor and major axes (d and
the incident projectiles alphas using our irradiation D) respectively with alpha energies (E) at di€erent
chamber (El-Hawary et al., 1995). Inside the chamber, etching durations. The dependence of d and D on
alpha energy could be varied via either the adjustment of energy is more obvious for t>5 h. Using values of d,
the source-to-detector distance (x) at ®xed pressure (P) D, incident angle yc and etching time t one can calcu-
or by varying the air pressure at ®xed distance (see Fig. 1). late both of the bulk etch rate VB and the track etch
The dominant interaction mechanisms between rate VT.
alpha particles and the molecules of the medium
through which they pass are mainly excitation and ion-
isation processes caused along their paths.
Accordingly, energy loss rate of alpha depends mainly
on the density of the stopping medium or the pressure
inside the chamber as long as the incident energy is
®xed. The dependency of the energy loss rate (dE/dx)
on the pressure has been evaluated from the data of
Fig. 1. The corresponding theoretical values of (dE/dx)
are calculated using the TRIM computer program
(Zigler, 1985) where the density±pressure relationship
of air was used. Fig. 2 shows the variation of the
measured (dots) and calculated (solid curve) values of
(dE/dx) with P, where a good agreement is obtained.
This procedure can also be used in alpha range evalu-
ation in the stopping medium as a function of pressure
inside the chamber which is aimed to be done in
another article using di€erent gases.

3.2. Critical angle determination

In the following experiments, sheets of CR-39 detec- Fig. 2. The variation of the measured (point) and calculated
tors were exposed to alpha particle of di€erent energies (solid curve) values of (dE/dx) with the pressure (P).
M.M. El-Hawary et al. / Radiation Physics and Chemistry 54 (1999) 547±550 549

In this part the critical angle of etching (yc) was

obtained by two techniques, i.e. indirect and direct
methods. In the ®rst method plastic detectors were
exposed to normally incident alpha energies (from 1 to
5.5 MeV) and then etched to removal thickness layer
of 5 mm. From the track diameter measurements and
Eq. (1), yc was determined and represented in Fig. 5
(curve a) as a function of energy. In the second
method, sheets of CR-39 detectors were irradiated with
a certain value of alpha energy at angles y varying
from yc+5 to ycÿ5 in steps of 28. The choice of yc was
determined from the normal incidence case (indirect
method) at the same alpha energy. Successive etching
processes were performed until the track could be seen
under the microscope. In this way yc was determined
as a function of removal thickness layer (h). By consid-
ering di€erent alpha energies and going through the
previous procedures, one can get a complete set of yc
dependence on both E and h. A comparison between
yc values obtained from both methods is shown in Fig. 4. The dependence of major axis (D) with alpha energy
Fig. 5 where curve (b) represents the data obtained (E) at di€erent etching times(t).
from direct method at removal thickness layer of
h = 5 mm. Examples of the variation of the critical
from Fig. 6, is very useful and greatly needed in any
angle with alpha energy at di€erent removal thickness
future investigation concerning alpha radiography stu-
layer are shown in Fig. 6 using the direct method. An
dies and detector eciency determination for track
empirical ycÿh ®t with uncertainty of about 3% was
registration in plastic recorders.
found to work well in the h-range from 4±10 mm which
can be written in the form
3.3. Etching eciency (Z) of SSNTDs
E sin yc ˆ A exp…E=B† ÿ C  h …3†
The etching eciency of SSNTDs has been deter-
where A, B and C are ®tting parameters of values mined via the critical angle measurements obtained
0.256, 2.1 and 0.055 respectively. In a range outside 4± from both cases (direct and indirect methods). Fig. 7
10 mm the ®t was not easy. A ycÿE chart obtained shows a comparison between the eciency values of

Fig. 3. The dependence of minor axis (d) on alpha energy (E) Fig. 5. The variation of the critical angle (yc) as a function of
at di€erent etching times (t). the incident alpha energy (E).
550 M.M. El-Hawary et al. / Radiation Physics and Chemistry 54 (1999) 547±550

Fig. 6. The variation of the critical angle (yc) with alpha Fig. 7. Comparison between the eciency values of the detec-
energy (E) at di€erent removal thickness layers (h) (direct tor (Z) based on both methods as a function of alpha energy
method). and at the same removal thickness layer (5 mm).

the detector based on both methods as a function of Andom, A.A.B., 1992. Indoor and soil radon measurements
energy and at the same removal thickness layer (5 mm). in tropical climate. Nucl. Radiat. Meas. 20, 371.
This comparison indicated that there is a good agree- Durrani, S.A., Bull, 1987. Solid state nuclear track detectors
ment between both results, where yc shows a maximum principles, methods and applications. Pergamon Press,
Oxford, pp. 59±71.
at about 2.0 MeV.
El-Hawary, M.M., Hussein, A., El-Rahmany, A., Ammar,
A.A., El-Sersy, A.R., 1995. Construction of a charged par-
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4. Conclusion Nucl. Instr. Meth. B 103, 94±98.
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Gamma-ray dosimetery using zinc phosphate glasses. Sci.
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