Determination of chemical homogeneity of historical glassware using autoradiography of potassium natural radioactivity

  • Sartowska B
  • Kunicki-Goldfinger J
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Abstract

There is a range of elements with a radioactive long-life isotope. That isotope is often the component of a naturally existing element. Autoradiography is one of the methods allowing us to detect natural radioactivity of elements. Using autoradiography, we can carry out non-destructive and non-sampling investigations of the historical glassware. The main purpose of such work was to determine the potassium content in the tested glassware as well as to determine the chemical homogeneity of the object. The natural radioactivity of the isotope40K has been used here. The broken stem of an 18th century goblet, made of colourless, high quality glass has been analysed. Our experiment consisted of two parts: examination of model glasses with calibration of the method and examination of broken stem. Obtained results showed us large inhomogeneity of the old glass. Differences in K2O concentration were in the range of 13-20%. It means that chemical inhomogeneity of historic glasses cannot be omitted during investigations that require sampling. © 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Autoradiography
  • Glass
  • Natural radioactivity
  • Potassium

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