Table of contents:
- What is this?
- The principle of operation of lighting fixtures
- Advantages and disadvantages of tritium devices
- Tritium and its effect on the body
Technology does not stand still, and what seemed impossible before is becoming a reality today. An example of the achievements of modern science and technology is the tritium flashlight, which is used by the military, but is also available to ordinary citizens. The unique properties of tritium make it possible to use it in many branches of human activity. But most of all, the isotope is used in the military industry.
What is this?
Tritium is an isotope of the hydrogen atom, which has two neutrons and one proton in its composition, has a greater atomic mass than the first chemical element in the periodic table. In nature, it is formed as a result of the bombardment of various atoms by particles falling to Earth from outer space.
In industry, to obtain tritium in special nuclear reactors, the isotope of lithium-6 is irradiated. The main scope of its application is the basis for thermonuclear weapons, as well as fuel for atomicpower plants. In addition, it is used in geological exploration and in various industries. Tritium is used to produce spectacular illumination of cars and watches. The famous tritium flashlight could not work without this isotope.
The principle of operation of lighting fixtures
Hydrogen isotope is used to manufacture lighting products based on radioluminescent backlighting, also called trigalight, or GTLS. How does the Tritium Betalight Torch work? The property of beta decay of tritium and the interaction of radioactive particles with the phosphor was used:
- The isotope is placed in a special transparent flask, on the inner surface of which a thin layer of phosphor is applied - a substance that converts any absorbed energy into light.
- Tritium, as a result of spontaneous beta decay, due to its instability, emits charged particles that transfer photoluminophor molecules from an excited state to a normal state.
- As a result of this transition, light energy is released, which is then directed and amplified by reflectors.
This property of tritium is used in the military industry to illuminate instruments, as well as to indicate flies on firearms. Among the devices produced for the mass buyer, you can most often find a tritium flashlight or keychain. They come in a variety of colors and designs.
Advantages and disadvantages of tritium devices
ImportantThe advantage that a tritium flashlight has is its service life. The half-life of the hydrogen isotope is more than 12 years, so the device will be able to work successfully during this time, slightly dimming.
The second advantage of the tritium flashlight is the complete absence of removable and fragile components. It was originally designed to work in space, and therefore does not have any switches and controls.
The third advantage is high performance. The backlight is bright enough to illuminate navigation charts in the dark, the path in the caves, indicate stopping places and potentially dangerous objects for other travelers. No external factors - temperature, air pressure - affect its operation.
The only downside is the high price. It takes about $30 million to produce one kilogram of tritium. In view of this, even the smallest devices can cost several thousand rubles.
Tritium and its effect on the body
All elements containing tritium are radioactive - this is the basis of their work. About 200 millicuries are emitted by a modern tritium flashlight during operation. Harm, however, does not appear on the body, due to the low energy of the emitted particles. Their power is only enough to overcome a distance of 6 mm, therefore, they are easily caught by clothing, rubber gloves, and cannot even penetrate the upper layers of the skin.
When it enters the body in its pure form, the risk of exposure to radiation is minimal, since the element does not participate in metabolic processes and simply passes through the body. Tritium fumes pose a great danger. In this case, combining with oxygen, it forms "heavy water", which may well participate in metabolic processes. But the period of its removal is about two weeks, and during this time, with a single hit, the resulting exposure is not dangerous.
The same property imposes restrictions on making a tritium flashlight with your own hands. The periodic ingress of heavy water into the body causes undesirable consequences, which is why it is better to refuse such an undertaking. In addition, handicraft production is impossible due to the high cost of the starting material.