Nuclear Energy pp 389-425 | Cite as

Radiation Shielding

Chapter

Abstract

We live in a world that abounds in radiation of all types. Many radiations, such as the neutrinos or visible light from our sun present little risk to us. Other radiations, such as medical x-rays or gamma rays emitted by radioactive materials, have the potential to cause us harm. In this entry, only the transport of indirectly ionizing radiation is considered. These radiations consist of chargeless particles such as neutrons or photons that, upon interacting with matter, produce energetic secondary charged particles called directly ionizing radiation. It is these secondary charged particles that, through ionization and excitation of ambient atoms along their paths, cause radiation damage to biological tissues or other sensitive materials.

Keywords

Graphite Filtration Attenuation Uranium Radium 

Glossary

Albedo

A quantity describing how neutrons or photons incident on the surface of some medium (e.g., a wall) are reflected or reemitted from the surface.

Buildup factor

A factor to account for production of secondary photons in a shield. The transmitted dose from only uncollided photons times the buildup factor equals the dose from all photons, uncollided plus secondary photons.

Dose

A general term for the energy transferred from radiation to matter. Specifically, the absorbed dose is the amount of energy imparted to matter from ionizing radiation in a unit mass of that matter. Units are the gray (Gy) and rad, respectively, equivalent to 1 J/kg and 100 ergs/g.

Flux

A measure of the intensity of a radiation field. Specifically, it equals the number of radiation particles entering, in a unit time, a sphere of cross-sectional area \( \Delta A \) divided by \( \Delta A \), as \( \Delta A \to 0 \). The flux, integrated over a specified time interval is called the fluence.

Interaction coefficient

A quantity, denoted by \( \mu \), describing how readily a photon or neutron interacts with a given medium. Specifically, it is the probability a radiation particle of energy E will interact in a specified manner per unit distance of travel, for infinitesimal distances. It thus has units of inverse length. The total interaction coefficient \( \mu = \sum\nolimits_i {\mu_i} \) where \( {\mu_i} \) is the coefficient for the ith type of interaction (e.g., scattering, absorption).

Neutron

A neutral subatomic particle that collectively with positively charged protons forms an atomic nucleus. Although both are composite particles composed of quarks and gluons, for the energies considered in this entry they can be viewed as fundamental unchangeable particles.

Photon

A quantum of electromagnetic radiation with energy \( E = h\nu \), where h is Planck’s constant and \( \nu \) is the frequency. Photons produced by a change in the structure of the nucleus are called gamma photons and those produced by atomic electron rearrangement are called x-rays.

Skyshine

A term for the radiation that reaches some point of interest after being scattered by the atoms in the atmosphere back to the point of interest.

Transport equation

Also known as the linearized Boltzmann equation, it describes rigorously the spatial, energy, and angular distribution of neutrons or photons in any medium with arbitrary source distributions. From its solution, the radiation flux or dose anywhere in the medium can be determined.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mechanical & Nuclear EngineeringKansas State UniversityManhattanUSA
  2. 2.Department of Mechanical & Nuclear EngineeringKansas State UniversityWinston SalemUSA

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