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Scientists created rugged tracers for use in harsh environments

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Tracking mass in harsh environments requires surrogate particles that survive events and survive sampling. Scientists have previously reported on the survivability of robust particulate tracers during detonation.

In a new study by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), scientists have created robust tracer particles that can survive and thrive in extreme conditions.

Fluorescent dyes and other organic materials are frequently used as tracers in biological research to locate cells and detect water leaks. They work admirably in certain situations, but are not very effective at tracking matter in explosions.The problem with them is that they burn.

In this study, instead of using organic materials, scientists focused on inorganic materials to develop robust tracers. quantum dot.

Fellow PNNL researcher April Kerman said: “Although they far outperformed organic materials in harsh conditions, the research team needed to protect the quantum dots from the extreme conditions of a chemical explosion.”

“Finding a way to protect the tracer while maintaining emission intensity proved difficult.”

The local environment has a great influence on the brightness of the tracer, ie the emission intensity. Some precautions can reduce brightness and make tracers more difficult to find. I decided to use a glass that was basically soaked in water.

The coated tracers created by the PNNL team were nearly as bright as the original QDs, even though previous silica coating techniques significantly reduced the brightness of the tracers. Additional testing revealed that the particles were able to withstand varying pH levels for extended periods of time.

PNNL researchers have created a robust tracer that can withstand blasts like this stainless steel tube explosion. (Image by Lance Hubbard | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)

Mr. Hubbard said: “When we saw the results, we knew we had created something special.”

Luckily for the PNNL team, their synthesis method was designed to be fully scalable, allowing mass production from kilograms per day to potential tons.

Fellow PNNL researcher Michael Foxe said: “Not only can they mass-produce tracers, they can also customize them.” Tracers can be arbitrarily sized and colored. You can adjust it, and you can also use different sizes and different colors to visualize how the explosion affects particles of different sizes.”

the scientist I got it, “The tracer is robust enough to be deployed in harsh environments to track mass and improve scientists’ understanding of environmental fate and transport. With tunable parameters and easy-to-use systems, these tracers offer many potentials for tracking the fate and transport of materials in harsh environments. It has uses.”

Mr. Carman “Despite our initial skepticism, we are delighted to have continued with this project, and are excited to see where it will lead us next.”

Journal reference:

  1. Hubbard, L., Reed, C., Uhnak, N. et al. Microaggregates, Synthesis, and Environmental Testing of Luminescent Silica. MRS Communications 12, 119–123 (2022). Doi: 10.1557/s43579-022-00150-3

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