25 October, 2011

Gaseous Tritium Light Source

In my post about cufflinks I mentioned tritium lights as an option. This is what I was talking about.
Again, tritium:
  • radioactive isotope of hydrogen, with 2 neutrons and 1 proton (normal hydrogen only has 1 proton)
  • decays by beta-decay (produces electrons)
  • trace occurring in nature
  • made in nuclear reactors
  • used in hydrogen bombs and certain designs of fusion reactors
This product is a sealed vial of tritium with the insides painted with phosphors. As the tritium decays, it excites the phosphors, which produce light. The colour depends on the phosphors. I got green because it's the most obvious (the human eye is most sensitive to green).
  • no batteries
  • no recharging, unlike conventional glow-in-the-dark
  • nothing to replace
  • waterproof
  • lasts 10 years
  • temperature independent? Nuclear reactions are temperature independent.
Also used in watches (Luminox) and gun sights. Replaces the much much more dangerous radium.

Why this is cool:
  • tritium is rare
  • and used in man-made nuclear fusion!
  • safe way to carry a radioactive material with you
  • doesn't need batteries
  • durable and lasts extremely long
  • it glows
  • explain isotopes and nuclear reactions to people

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