When tritium — not too much: we explain on the example of hours
Every day we often hear the words “tritium”, “trigalight” and similar chemical terms. Nevertheless, many still associate the tritium and technologies based on it with something dangerous and inaccessible. Let’s try to understand.
History and technology
Tritium – superheavy hydrogen, one hydrogen isotope in the nucleus which contains one proton and two neutrons. Radioactive half-life of 12.26 years, in beta decay becomes a helium-3. In simple language it is a gas with weak beta-radiation. Was discovered by Rutherford in 1934, artificially, and only 16 years later discovered in nature.
Today, the tritium used for various industrial purposes, are artificially, by irradiating lithium with neutrons. The result was possible to obtain significant quantities of pure tritium and to study its properties and the properties of its compounds.
The first who found the use of tritium gas was the Swiss company Mb-microtec AG. It began its activity in 1918 as a manufacturer of fluorescent dyes. The raw materials were obtained directly from Paris, from Marie Curie, which at that time was the sole owner sources and possess the necessary knowledge in the field of radioluminescence. After the discovery of tritium, the company tries to produce different devices with tritium paint, but not quite successfully. Tritium paint quickly disintegrated, and when in contact with water formed a connection in the form of tritium water with high radiation dose. This led to the creation of absolutely new product – GTLS (tritium light source gasus), or as it is called in Russia, a gas tritium light source. Manufactured this product under the brand name Trigalight® (Trigalight). It happened in 1986.
This technology is to place the tritium gas in small glass flasks, the inner walls of which are covered with reflective paint. This layer is bombarded with electrons emitted by the tritium, which causes the layer to light up (conversion of electric charge to light). While in the CRT the electrons generated via a cathode in trigalet the source of the necessary electrons are created through radio-active decay of tritium (hydrogen isotope).
Tritium in watches
Watch and radioactive compositions for a long time go hand in hand. In the early and mid-twentieth century to provide the readability of the instruments (including hours) on Board various ships and aircraft (and tanks and other self-propelled, especially military technology) was obtained only with the use of extremely dangerous to humans compounds. Even after decades after the cancellation of the car to the scrap arrow and scale of its instruments continued to “fonit”, RAS prostrana around itself harmful to all living things radiation. Wasn’t too bothered the makers of war machines: in war all means are good, and the chances of dying from the radiation emitted by arrows tank in combat, which is lower than the enemy projectile. In the civilian sector, the same relation to the issue of radiation safety is not, especially today.
And the technology has leaped forward, opening before us the perspective of the “peaceful atom”. The decision with which the scientists solved the problem of making hours long-life light source, striking in simplicity and grace, although essentially similar to the real reactor.
The most famous companies manufacturing watches with tritium illumination – Ball, Traser, Luminox.
Every atom of tritium emits one electron, which leaves the core with this amount of power that he is unable to penetrate human skin and can be easily stopped by a simple sheet of paper.
Advantage of the backlight on the basis of tritium is that it is constant light and with full autonomy. That is, it does not require any light sources to “recharge”: while tritium has not collapsed, trigalet in working condition. Widespread recently photoluminescent compounds based on strontium aluminate require a source of light for “charging” and lose in complete darkness 90% brightness within 60 minutes.
The tritium illumination loses about half brightness within 12 years from the date of manufacture (the half-life of tritium ~ 12.5 years) and about 75% brightness in 25 years.
Of course, light sources of Mb-microtec AG are not only used in watches. They can be found in the gun sights, aircraft instruments, fishing floats. The scope of the tritium illumination is constantly expanding: the sources appear in the designer door handles, exit signs, aircraft and mines.