In many industries and areas of everyday life radiation significantly contributes to achieving and improving the characteristic properties of products. Radiation sterilization and radiation crosslinking of plastics are already employed on a large industrial scale. Also in many other products, the energy of the radiation triggers changes at a molecular level which are not able to be generated in a conventional way for the most part. This opens up possibilities of optimizing products and applications in many other areas.
In the case of many polymer raw materials, the radiation triggers chemical reactions which strongly influence their processing properties. Depending on the chemical composition of polymers, degradation reactions or increases in molecular weight or long-chain branches are able to be specifically carried out in the molecular structure. This allows precise adjustment of the molecular weight and structure, which has a strong influence on the rheology (flow characteristics) of polymers. An example is the irradiation of polypropylene (PP) for reducing the molecular weight. The resulting material is used as a nucleating agent for polypropylene, which increases the degree of crystallization and causes the material to solidify much faster during injection moulding. In this way, processing times are reduced and the heat resistance, stiffness and impact strength of the moulded part are increased. In the case of polymers with high reactivity, such as ethylene-vinyl acetate copolymers (EVA), very precisely adjusted radiation doses increase the molecular weights (so-called “Mooney Leap”). With other polymer raw materials (e.g. starch and cellulose), the molecular weight is able to be accurately and reproducibly modified by irradiation. This can have a positive effect on the processing rheology or other properties of the products.
The irradiation with beta or gamma rays causes changes in the crystal lattice of precious stones and other solids. This allows specific colour changes in gemstones for aesthetic purposes. Glass, pearls and other materials can also be irradiated for such purposes.
If semiconductors are treated with beta rays, lattice defects are generated which permanently affect their switching behaviour. Due to the high penetration capability of high-energy electrons, a very homogenous adjustment of charge carrier lifetime can be achieved. This enables a very precise setting of switching behaviour, blocking times and other electrical properties in power electronics. Applications are silicon wafers, diodes, IGBTs and PPTCs.
Many components used in the nuclear industry or in aerospace technology need to undergo extensive tests for the assessment of their life expectancy under the effects of radiation. Examples are satellite components, cables and wires, coating and materials, pumps or other functional parts.
For BGS it has always been important to be an innovative and technology-enthusiastic pioneer in the development of new application fields for the use of ionizing rays. The aim is to optimally use the enormous potential of this technology in the relevant areas of industry. Therefore, BGS would like to inform you about the wide range of applications and encourage you to discuss your ideas for development and challenges with our experts and application specialists. Oftentimes, unimagined potential for improvement is inherent in your products and materials. For many years now, BGS has been a competent partner of the industry. Whether it is about basic research or projects with a clearly defined goal – BGS has extensive experience in the handling of complex tasks with different partners. Our experts will contribute their specialised knowledge in the field of high-energy radiation to find an optimal solution for your product.