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ESR Detection of X-Ray-Induced Free Radicals in Crosslinked Silica Aerogels

  • Benjamin M. Walters (a1), Ramón V. León (a2), Muhammad S. Jahan (a1) and Firouzeh Sabri (a1)


Aerogels are a promising material for aerospace applications and have recently been explored for biomedical applications also. In both environments, exposure to radiation is inevitable, such as from radiation in space or, radiation-based sterilization and tracking of implants. X-ray radiation, in particular, is of a concern. Here, polyurea-crosslinked silica aerogel (PCSA) samples were exposed to approximately 170- and 500-Gy X-irradiation at room temperature under varying environmental conditions and characterized using electron spin resonance (ESR) technique. Results obtained for PCSA were compared with those from polyether-ether ketone (PEEK) and ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) which served as benchmarks for this study. PEEK is known to be very radiation resistant, while UHMWPE is known to be less radiation resistant. All materials (PCSA, PEEK, and UHMWPE) were exposed to the same treatments and exposure conditions. Two exposure times were tested: 10 min and 30 min which corresponded to “low” and “high” conditions, as well as comparisons of nitrogen vs. air environments during exposure and post-exposure storage. Results showed significant quantities of free radicals produced in PCSA after exposure to X-irradiation which scaled with radiation dosage; quantities were in-between those produced in PEEK and UHMWPE. The storage conditions (air vs. nitrogen) also played an important role in the free radical levels detected and are reported in this study.


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