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A semi-empirical model for a 90Sr beta-

particle transmission thickness gauge for
aluminum alloys

Article in Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section B Beam Interactions with
Materials and Atoms January 2004
DOI: 10.1016/S0168-583X(03)01582-9


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Walid A. Metwally
University of Sharjah


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Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research B 213 (2004) 357363

A semi-empirical model for a 90Sr beta-particle

transmission thickness gauge for aluminum alloys
R.P. Gardner *, W.A. Metwally, A. Shehata
Center for Engineering Applications of Radioisotopes (CEAR), Nuclear Engineering Department, North Carolina State University,
Raleigh, NC 27695-7909, USA


A semi-empirical model is derived and tested for a 90 Sr beta-particle transmission thickness gauge for aluminum
alloys. Monte Carlo simulation is also used to verify the forward scatter part of the model. The model accurately
accounts for thickness as well as forward scatter, gamma-ray background, and the measurement interference of sample
density and composition. The model parameters are obtained and the model is benchmarked with industrial experi-
mental data from a 90 Sr(90 Y) gauge.
2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction 2. Semi-empirical model

Beta-particle transmission gauges have long The semi-empirical model proposed and tested
been used and are industrially very important [2,3] here is based on the use of fundamental macro-
for measuring and controlling the thickness of scopic cross-sections for the basic interactions of
rolled products such as paper, plastic, and metal. beta-particles, combined with the assumption that
Beta-particle sources of industrial importance in the transmission of beta-particles is exponential up
this application include 90 Sr(90 Y), 204 T1, 85 Kr and to some characteristic maximum range.
Pm. While several exponential and linearized The fundamental macroscopic cross-sections
models have been proposed and used for calibra- for two basic interactions are used. They are: (1)
tion purposes, the authors are not aware of any scattering and (2) attenuation. The form of the
models that explicitly account for composition and scattering interaction XS is taken as
the forward scatter inherent to beta-particle Xn

transmission gauges. XS wi Zi2 =Ai ; 1


where wi , Zi and Ai are the weight fraction, atomic

number and atomic mass of element i in the sam-
ple, respectively. The form of the attenuation in-
teraction XA is taken as
Corresponding author. Tel.: +1-919-515-3378; fax: +1-919- X
515-5115. XA wi Zi =Ai : 2
E-mail address: (R.P. Gardner). i1

0168-583X/$ - see front matter 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
358 R.P. Gardner et al. / Nucl. Instr. and Meth. in Phys. Res. B 213 (2004) 357363

The XS parameter accounts primarily for large where kA and kS are constants for a given beta-
angle scatter while the XA parameter accounts particle transmission gauge. The model then be-
primarily for small energy losses along a beta- comes
particle path that does not result in signicant
changes of direction. Rt R0 expkA XA qt  kS XS qt B: 5

2.1. Thin-beam or good geometry Note that no energy dependence is given in this
model. It is reasoned that one eective energy can
For a beta-particle transmission gauge with be considered and, therefore, energy dependence in
thin-beam geometry, the basic gauge response Rt the model can be omitted. This could be modied
is taken as if found necessary to include two or more eective
Rt R0 expl=qqt B; 3 energies by using the sum of multiples of the pre-
3 sent model. However, the present model already
where q is sample density in g/cm , t is the sample
contains six unknown parameters (R0, kA , XA , kS ,
thickness in cm, l is the semi-empirical sample
XS and B) that must be obtained from experi-
attenuation coecient in cm1 and B is the back-
mental data and this must be increased to account
ground response. This model is modied to include
for the two beta-particle spectra of the 90 Sr(90 Y)
sample composition explicitly by substituting for
When the two beta-particle spectra present in a
l=q kA XA kS XS ; 4 90
Sr(90 Y) source are considered, one must use the

Transmission Model


800 R =491.0Exp(18.0X t1.32X t)


+491.0Exp(3.85X t0.283X St)


700 +18.0Exp(0.0414XAt)







0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.9

Fig. 1. Experimental data compared to transmission semi-empirical model.

R.P. Gardner et al. / Nucl. Instr. and Meth. in Phys. Res. B 213 (2004) 357363 359

sum of two transmission terms. The model then where kc and lc are parameters associated with the
becomes gamma-ray response. The linear attenuation co-
ecient lc for pure aluminum is 0.0414 cm1 . Now
Rt R0expk1A XA qt  k1S XS qt
the model has two additional parameters for a
expk2A XA qt  k2S XS qt B; 6 total of 10. If we assume that lc is constant and
where the subscripts 1 and 2 refer to the rst and equal to the value for pure aluminum, and that XA
second beta-particle spectra, respectively. This and XS are known for a given known sample, we
model contains two additional parameters for a still have seven parameters in the model that must
total of eight. be determined by the least-squares analysis of data
In the case of the 90 Sr (90 Y) source, there is a from standard known samples.
small amount of gamma radiation (a 2.1862-MeV
gamma-ray) associated with the source, so an ex- 2.2. Broad-beam or poor geometry
ponential attenuation term must be added for it as
well. Now the model becomes In the case of broad-beam geometry, one also
has an added forward scatter component. The
form of this component is taken as
Rt R0expk1A XA qt  k1S XS qt
expk2A XA qt  k2S XS qt F t CS XS qt R0 expcA XA qt  cS XS qt:
kc explc XA qt B; 7 8


200 Residuals=R ExperimentRTransmission Model




0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.9

Fig. 2. Residuals of experimental data and transmission semi-empirical model.

360 R.P. Gardner et al. / Nucl. Instr. and Meth. in Phys. Res. B 213 (2004) 357363

With this modication the nal total model for the 3. Determination of model parameters
broad-beam 90 Sr beta-particle transmission gauge
becomes The model parameters were determined using
the code CURMOD developed at CEAR, which is
Rt R0expk1A XA qt  k1S XS qt a code that is capable of determining nonlinear
expk2A XA qt  k2S XS qt parameters by a nonlinear (Marquardt) search
while simultaneously determining the linear pa-
CS XS qta R0 expcA XA qt  cS XS qt rameters by a linear method. This code is a mod-
kc explc XA qt kN : 9 ication and extension of the code CURFIT
described in the text by Bevington [1] which was
So the nal model contains 11 parameters that based on the algorithm suggested by Marquardt
must be determined from a least-squares t to [4] for optimal nonlinear searching by optimum
experimental data seven nonlinear and four lin- combined use of gradient and linearized methods.
ear. One of the nonlinear parameters might be Other codes familiar to the authors that search
taken as zero and omitted the coecient CS for on multiple model parameters when some of the
the scatter attenuation in the forward scatter re- parameters are nonlinear, must do so by using the
sponse. One might also make the parameter a nonlinear search method for all parameters. For
unity or some other xed integer. If these two example, the sample problem in Bevington [1] does
things are done (cS 0 and a 1), the number of this. This approach has the disadvantage that each
parameters is reduced to nine, six nonlinear and new nonlinear parameter that is introduced to a
three linear. model increases the degree of diculty by almost
an order of magnitude.

4. Model t results

4.1. Initial tting without forward scatter

An extensive set of data from a prototype 90 Sr

beta gauge was obtained from Alcoa for a range of
thicknesses from 0 to 130 mils and for seven alu-
minum alloys including alloy numbers 1100, 1145,
1199, 2024, 2036, 7146 and 7178. These data were
rst used with the model of Eq. (7) without the
forward scatter portion. It was clear that the t
was very poor in this case. Examination of the t
residuals showed a large smooth swing from pos-
itive to negative and back to positive. The resid-
uals clearly showed a structure that was not due to
the uniform random uctuation that one would
expect from just Poisson counting rate uctua-
tions. Unfortunately, one cannot get an accurate
description of the missing feature from residuals
obtained in this manner.
A dierent approach was used to obtain a more
accurate description of the missing feature(s). That
Fig. 3. Schematic diagram of the Monte Carlo simulation approach involved using a simplied transmission
process. model utilizing the attenuation coecients re-
R.P. Gardner et al. / Nucl. Instr. and Meth. in Phys. Res. B 213 (2004) 357363 361

ported for 90 Sr in standard texts (like [3]) and a tration distance into the aluminum alloy sheet
trial-and-error stripping method. (The model used before a large angle scatter was chosen from the
is Eq. (7) with R0 491:0, k1A 18:0, k1S 1:32, pertinent exponential distribution with the ap-
k2A 3:85, k2S 0:283, kc 18:0, lc 0:0414 and propriate linear attenuation coecient, the large
B 0.) With this approach the model t shown in angle scatter was chosen from an isotropic distri-
Fig. 1 with the residuals shown in Fig. 2 were bution, the scatter energy loss was calculated from
obtained. It then occurred to the authors that the the appropriate energy balance equation, and at-
missing feature was probably caused by forward tenuation to and from the large angle scatter to-
scatter. ward the detector within the aluminum sheet was
calculated from the appropriate simplied power
4.2. Monte Carlo simulation of forward scatter law range equation. A schematic diagram of this
process is shown in Fig. 3.
To further substantiate this idea, a simple The results of this Monte Carlo simulation are
Monte Carlo simulation of the forward scatter was shown compared to the values obtained experi-
attempted. In this simulation the beta-particle mentally by the previously described approach in
emission angle was assumed to be isotropic from Fig. 4. The Monte Carlo results were normalized,
0 to 90, the beta-particle energy was chosen from but the shape of the predicted forward scatter
the pertinent distribution by rejection, the pene- for both approaches matches well, verifying that

Monte Carlo Simulation





0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.9

Fig. 4. Residuals of experimental data compared to Monte Carlo simulation of forward scattering.
362 R.P. Gardner et al. / Nucl. Instr. and Meth. in Phys. Res. B 213 (2004) 357363

forward scatter is an integral part of the gauge b qt  R

b 0
model. A t of the residuals data was made with Rqt ; 10
R 1  Rb 0
the model of Eq. (8) and is shown in Fig. 5. The
parameters for Eq. (8) were found to be CS R0
408:0, a 0:5853, cA 3:09 and cS 0:409. where the hats refer to raw data.
The t results are compared with the experi-
4.3. Final model t mental data in Fig. 6 and indicate a very good t.
The dierences shown in Fig. 6 do exhibit a slight
With this verication of forward scatter, the shape other than uniform randomness. This indi-
model of Eq. (9) was used on the experimental cates that either the model is not perfect or the
data to obtain a general model. The least-squares model parameters obtained are not optimal.
model results gave values for the parameters
of R0 491:4, k1A 17:0, k1S 1:22, k2A
4:22, k2S 0:302, CS R0 408:88, a 0:636, 5. Discussion of results and conclusions
cA 3:04, cS 0:400, and kc 17:4. There was no
background kN since the method that was used to The model t results indicate that the model is
report the data automatically eliminated it. The quite good and that it should provide a very gen-
data were reported as eral model for the 90 Sr transmission beta-particle


RS=A4(XSt) 3 Exp(A1XAtA2XSt)
A1=3.0944576, A2=0.4092344
A =0.5853393, A =408.0195316
3 4





0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.9

Fig. 5. Residuals of experimental data compared to semi-empirical forward scattering model.

R.P. Gardner et al. / Nucl. Instr. and Meth. in Phys. Res. B 213 (2004) 357363 363

Differences X 10

800 RC=491.4Exp(17.0XAt1.22XSt)
+408.88(X t)0.636Exp(3.04X t0.400X t)




0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.9

Fig. 6. Experimental data compared to complete semi-empirical model and dierences.

gauge capable of accounting for the measure- References

ment interferences of density and composition
variation in a wide range of aluminum alloys. [1] P.R. Bevington, Data Reduction and Error Analysis for the
Physical Sciences, McGraw-Hill Book Company, New
York, 1969.
[2] J.F. Cameron, C.G. Clayton, Radioisotope Instruments,
Pergamon Press, New York, 1971.
[3] R.P. Gardner, R.L. Ely Jr, Radioisotope Measurement
Applications in Engineering, Reinhold Publishing Corpora-
The authors gratefully acknowledge the support tion, New York, 1967.
of Dr. C.L. Dobbs and J. Szalanski of Alcoa. [4] D.W. Marquardt, J. Soc. Ind. Appl. Math. 11 (2) (1963) 431.

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