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Schott RD50

Schott RD50

Date posted: November 21, 2016 // RD50

Trust Schott RD50 X-Ray Resistant Glass for Maximum Protection

It was quite some time before Wilhelm Röntgen and his contemporaries eventually became aware that the newly-discovered X-rays carried not only the potential to become an invaluable diagnostic tool, but also of the damaging and possibly serious consequences to those who are repeatedly exposed to them. Generally, patients tend to be exposed infrequently and it is those that operate the equipment that are most at risk. Since lead was found to resist penetration by X-rays, as were thick concrete walls, these became the first line of defence. Radiographers operated controls some distance from the X-ray source and wore rubber aprons containing lead shielding to protect them from stray radiation.

With the growth of X-ray technology, methods of protection have improved in parallel, and much of the related research has been directed at the development of radiation resistant glass, such as the widely-acclaimed product known as RD50 developed by the leading German manufacturer of specialised glass – Schott. While the realisation that glass could be made resistant to the passage of X-rays and other forms of ionising radiation by the simple process of including sufficient lead in its composition sounds logical enough, the impact of this step has been revolutionary.

Even when surprisingly high concentrations of lead in the form of its oxide are introduced into the molten material, this has almost no perceptible effect on its ability to transmit visible light. Despite this, the added heavy metal enables the glass to absorb the high-energy radiation like a sponge absorbs water, although without the inevitable limit that arises due to saturation.

In practice, the process is not actually absorption in the accepted sense, but may be best thought of as a process that deflects incoming rays through collisions that rob them of their energy and thus limit their penetrative properties. With its lead oxide content of 65 percent, Schott RD50 combines a crystal-clear view of everything that is going on behind the glass, while providing the observer with all of the protection that he or she could possibly require.

Today, computerised axial tomography (CAT) allows investigating physicians to perform whole body scans that, of necessity, involve multiple exposures, and thus provide an unimpeded view of the process whilst ensuring that the safety of the operator and observers is maintained throughout these procedures. In laboratories, where medical isotopes are prepared and readied for diagnostic or therapeutic use, panels made from the same product may also be fitted to the glove boxes, in order to provide their handlers with the necessary visibility and protection from gamma and other forms of ionising radiation.

Apart from offering far greater protection than an equal thickness of acrylic material, RD50 is also resistant to scratching and displays some other valuable properties also. It may be laminated, bent into a wide range of shapes, drilled and specially treated to enhance its ability to provide both acoustic and thermal insulation, if required.

Labotec Industrial Industries is South Africa’s leading supplier and installer of specialised glass, including Schott RD50 and similar products for use in a wide and expanding range of domestic, industrial and research applications.