Japanese Tsunami Speeds Search For Cheaper Radiation Detection Plastic

A Japanese research team has developed an inexpensive moldable plastic replacement for costly organic scintillators used in computed tomography (CT) scanners and gamma cameras in medical diagnostics as well as radiation detectors and several other devices.

Teijin Chemicals (Tokyo, Japan) announced it is now supplying the low-cost radiation-fluorescent plastic under the tradename Scintirex.

“Teijin Chemicals believes that Scintirex will help to reduce the total cost of radiation detectors by slashing the production cost of scintillators to one tenth or less of current levels,” the company said in a press release.

Scintirex is a proprietary polyester resin developed by Teijin Chemicals in cooperation with Kyoto University Nuclear Reactor Research Institute and the National Institute of Radiological Sciences in Japan.

In a paper published in a research June, the researchers said: “It is generally known that only materials with very complex compositions perform well as scintillators. However, we demonstrated that the scintillation performance of a newly developed plastic such as 100 percent pure polyethylene naphthalate exceeds that of conventional organic scintillators.”

The authors are Dr. Hidehito Nakamura, assistant professor, Kyoto University Nuclear Reactor Research Institute and Visiting Fellow at the Japanese National Institute of Radiological Sciences; Dr. Sentaro Takahashi, professor at the Kyoto University Nuclear Reactor Research Institute; Dr. Yoshiyuki Shirakawa, head of the Department of Technical Support at the Japanese National Institute of Radiological Sciences; and Hisayoshi Shimizu, senior manager, Business Development Department, Teijin Chemicals.

The researchers noted the high cost of scintillators used in radiation detectors after the tsunami disabled nuclear reactors about 250 miles northeast of Tokyo. They felt prices were artificially high due to constrained supply and burgeoning demand.

This triggered an accelerated effort to identify less expensive and more easily available replacements.

Scintillators are also used by the US government as Homeland Security radiation detectors. Scintillators can also be used in monitoring systems, neutron and high energy particle physics experiments, new energy resource exploration, X-ray security, nuclear cameras, computed tomography and gas exploration. CT scanners and gamma cameras in medical diagnostics are another way scintillators are used.

“We just stated marketing Scintirex,” says a spokesman for Teijin. “Initially, the product will be tested in cooperation with universities and research institutes. Potential users are universities, research institutes as well as manufacturers in some applications including radiation detectors and medical equipment.”

Moldable plastic (PEN) is described as well suited for scintillators.

About Doug Smock

Former Chief Editor at Plastics World and Senior Technical Editor Design News
Asia, Design, Electronics, Injection Molding, Medical, Polyethylene naphthalate ,

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