[ RadSafe ] Can tritium produce bremsstrahlung?

Cindy Bloom radbloom at comcast.net
Tue Feb 21 15:39:58 CST 2006

A pancake probe will detect bremsstrahlung from tritium sources.  I've 
detected  bremsstrahlung  from gas chromatograph foils (activities about 
100 mCi) and from tritium light sources.  At lower activities this effect 
is not detectable.  (I'm not sure how large the activity needs to be to 
detect this phenomenon with a pancake probe, it would depend on geometry 
and the material between the detector and the source) .

The question really is are the bremsstrahlung-produced photons sufficiently 
energetic to cause ionization.  Tritium's maximum beta energy is 18.6 keV, 
which indicates that the bremsstrahlung-produced photons could have 
energies up to 18.6 keV, so some of the photons are capable of producing 
ionization in air, in tissue and within the pancake probe.


At 02:04 PM 2/21/2006 -0500, Jon Stieglitz wrote:
>Could someone please tell me if a beta pancake is able to detect tritium in
>any amounts?  I have heard from reputable sources that it can.  Obviously
>the beta is too weak to be detected so as I understand it, the only way
>would be to detect the bremsstrahlung radiation.  Is tritium energetic
>enough to produce bremsstrahlung?  Can anyone tell me how much would be
>needed?  I apologize if this is a stupid question but nobody has totally
>answered the question to my satisfaction.
>J. Stieglitz
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