Radioactive sources

A project log for Open source expansion cloud chamber

Visualizes tracks of ionizing particles

M. BindhammerM. Bindhammer 05/31/2016 at 17:000 Comments

1. Uraninite

Try to buy Uraninite (formerly pitchblende) at a mineral show. I bought some pieces of Uraninite from the famous formerly Russian uranium mine of Hartenstein, Saxony, Germany, at an internet mineral show. Uraninite contains up to 88% uranium. Uranium is weakly radioactive because all its isotopes are unstable. Below video shows the radiation measurement with a GAMMA-SCOUT Geiger counter.

2. 241-Am

The most common Americium isotope 241Am can be obtained from an ionization smoke alarm. The isotope has has a half-life of 432.2 years. 241Am decays mainly via alpha decay, with a weak gamma ray product:

Next figure shows a dismantled Ei100L smoke alarm. The red, round structure at the right is the ionization chamber.

The washer shaped part in the middle of the lower electrode of the ionization chamber contains the 241Am. It has an activity of 33kBq.

Do not touch it directly! Always use tweezers or pliers. If alpha-emitting radionuclides do enter the body, alpha radiation is the most destructive form of ionizing radiation. A large enough dose can cause any or all of the symptoms of radiation poisoning.

Trimmed 241Am source soldered onto the brass disc described here. Make sure, the alpha particle emitting side points to the center of the brass disc.