Low energy photon mimic of the tritium beta decay energy spectrum
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Tritium is a radioactive hydrogen isotope that is typically produced via neutron interaction with heavy water (D2O), producing tritiated water (DTO). As a result of this, tritium accounts for roughly a third of all occupational exposures at a CANDU type nuclear power plant. This identifies a need to study the biological effects associated with tritium (and low energy electrons in general). However, there are complications regarding the dosimetry of tritium, as well as difficulties in handling and using tritium for the purposes of biophysics experiments. To avoid these difficulties, an experiment has been proposed using photons to mimic the beta decay energy spectrum of tritium. This would allow simulation of the radiation properties of tritium, so that a surrogate photon source can be used for biophysics experiments. Through experimental and computational means, this work has explored the use of characteristic x-rays of various materials to modify the output spectrum of an x-ray source, such that it mimics the tritium beta decay spectrum. Additionally, the resultant primary electron spectrum generated in water from an x-ray source was simulated. The results from this research have indicated that the use of characteristic x-rays is not a viable method for simulating a tritium source. Also, the primary electron spectrum generated in water shows some promise for simulating tritium exposure, however further work must be done to investigate the slowing down electron spectrum.