A reconfigurable radiation shield that includes nanoparticles is able to shift its orientation as the radiation source moves.
In U.S. Patent Application 20100084586, Harvard researcher Horia Mihail Teodorescu (330 Currier House, 64 Linnaean Street, Cambridge, MA 02138) proposes a reconfigurable radiation shield that, compared to state of the art static shields, improves volume/weight ratio of shields. The reconfigurable shield is applicable in the medical field, in the aerospace industry, in mobile radiological laboratories and decontamination vehicles, as well as in other fields where intensity-fluctuating radiation and variable direction radiation represent a hazard. The invention solves the problem of a low weight nuclear radiation shield able to ensure an increased protection, equivalent to that produced by a more massive shield, when the radiation comes from fluctuating sources with well defined positions in the space.
The shielding elements are micro- or nano-plates, micro- or nano-needles (or nanotubes) or even molecules that exhibit strong anisotropic properties of radiation absorption. Their appropriate orientation produces an efficient absorption of the radiation coming from a given direction. The actuation of the micro-, nano- or molecular-constituents is performed by external fields, like magnetic or electric fields.
The adaptive radiation shield can be industrially used in applications like space transport, in the medical domain, as well as in other terrestrial domains where intensity fluctuating radiation and variable direction radiation can be a hazard. The adaptive shield is technologically feasible with today means and with commercially available parts and materials. The precise design can be produced using existing CAD tools. In case of the adaptive shield variant based on ferro-fluids, it can be developed based on the current knowledge in the field, as reflected in the literature.
The radiation shield is characterized by the fact that it can be conceived out of small-sized plates, slabs, slats, lowers or textile/elastic fabrics with radiation absorption capabilities, which, through deformation in the directions of intense radiation sources, rise their equivalent thickness and thus their efficiency in absorption radiation in that area. The control of the material's deformation is automatic. The directional shield includes mobile elements that allow for their displacement in space, such that the shielding elements--for example shielding plates--change their angle with respect to the direction of the incoming radiation from the fluctuating source, when the source intensity increases.