Thoriated glass

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Thoriated glass is a glass material used in the manufacture of optical systems, specifically photographic lenses. It is useful to this process due to its high refractive index. Thoriated glass is radioactive due to the inclusion of thorium dioxide, oxide of radioactive element thorium. It has therefore been succeeded as a material of choice by glass including lanthanum oxide. Thoriated glass can contain up to 30% by weight of thorium. [1] The thoriated glass elements in lenses over time develop a brown tint reducing transmission and interfering with neutral color reproduction.

Glass amorphous solid that exhibits a glass transition when heated towards the liquid state

Glass is a non-crystalline, amorphous solid that is often transparent and has widespread practical, technological, and decorative uses in, for example, window panes, tableware, and optoelectronics. The most familiar, and historically the oldest, types of manufactured glass are "silicate glasses" based on the chemical compound silica (silicon dioxide, or quartz), the primary constituent of sand. The term glass, in popular usage, is often used to refer only to this type of material, which is familiar from use as window glass and in glass bottles. Of the many silica-based glasses that exist, ordinary glazing and container glass is formed from a specific type called soda-lime glass, composed of approximately 75% silicon dioxide (SiO2), sodium oxide (Na2O) from sodium carbonate (Na2CO3), calcium oxide (CaO), also called lime, and several minor additives.

Camera lens optical lens or assembly of lenses used with a camera body and mechanism to make images of objects

A camera lens is an optical lens or assembly of lenses used in conjunction with a camera body and mechanism to make images of objects either on photographic film or on other media capable of storing an image chemically or electronically.

Refractive index optical characteristic of a material

In optics, the refractive index or index of refraction of a material is a dimensionless number that describes how fast light propagates through the material. It is defined as

Many Kodak and Asahi Takumar lenses that were produced prior to the 1960s are radioactive. [2]

Radiation browning

Over extended time periods, thoriated glass may develop significant discoloration. This is due to induced F-centers forming in the glass as the radioactive decay of the thorium progresses. [3] The formation of F-centers is due to the ionizing effect of the high energy thorium decay products. This process can potentially be reversed by annealing the glass or exposing it to light. [4]


An F-center, Farbe center or color center is a type of crystallographic defect in which an anionic vacancy in a crystal is filled by one or more unpaired electrons. Electrons in such a vacancy tend to absorb light in the visible spectrum such that a material that is usually transparent becomes colored. This is used to identify many compounds, especially zinc oxide (yellow).

Radioactive decay Process by which an unstable atom emits radiation

Radioactive decay is the process by which an unstable atomic nucleus loses energy by emitting radiation, such as an alpha particle, beta particle with neutrino or only a neutrino in the case of electron capture, or a gamma ray or electron in the case of internal conversion. A material containing such unstable nuclei is considered radioactive. Certain highly excited short-lived nuclear states can decay through neutron emission, or more rarely, proton emission.

Annealing of glass is a process of slowly cooling hot glass objects after they have been formed, to relieve residual internal stresses introduced during manufacture. Especially for smaller, simpler objects, annealing may be incidental to the process of manufacture, but in larger or more complex products it commonly demands a special process of annealing in a temperature-controlled kiln known as a lehr. Annealing of glass is critical to its durability. Glass that has not been properly annealed retains thermal stresses caused by quenching, which indefinitely decrease the strength and reliability of the product. Inadequately annealed glass is likely to crack or shatter when subjected to relatively small temperature changes or to mechanical shock or stress. It even may fail spontaneously.

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Thorium Chemical element with atomic number 90

Thorium is a weakly radioactive metallic chemical element with symbol Th and atomic number 90. Thorium is silvery and tarnishes black when it is exposed to air, forming thorium dioxide; it is moderately hard, malleable, and has a high melting point. Thorium is an electropositive actinide whose chemistry is dominated by the +4 oxidation state; it is quite reactive and can ignite in air when finely divided.

Nuclear fuel cycle Process of manufacturing and consuming nuclear fuel

The nuclear fuel cycle, also called nuclear fuel chain, is the progression of nuclear fuel through a series of differing stages. It consists of steps in the front end, which are the preparation of the fuel, steps in the service period in which the fuel is used during reactor operation, and steps in the back end, which are necessary to safely manage, contain, and either reprocess or dispose of spent nuclear fuel. If spent fuel is not reprocessed, the fuel cycle is referred to as an open fuel cycle ; if the spent fuel is reprocessed, it is referred to as a closed fuel cycle.

Gas mantle

An incandescent gas mantle, gas mantle or Welsbach mantle is a device for generating bright white light when heated by a flame. The name refers to its original heat source in gas lights, which filled the streets of Europe and North America in the late 19th century, mantle referring to the way it is hung above the flame. Today it is still used in portable camping lanterns, pressure lanterns and some oil lamps.

Spontaneous fission form of radioactive decay found in very heavy chemical elements

Spontaneous fission (SF) is a form of radioactive decay that is found only in very heavy chemical elements. The nuclear binding energy of the elements reaches its maximum at an atomic mass number of about 56; spontaneous breakdown into smaller nuclei and a few isolated nuclear particles becomes possible at greater atomic mass numbers.

Thorium dioxide Chemical compound

Thorium dioxide (ThO2), also called thorium(IV) oxide, is a crystalline solid, often white or yellow in color. Also known as thoria, it is produced mainly as a by-product of lanthanide and uranium production. Thorianite is the name of the mineralogical form of thorium dioxide. It is moderately rare and crystallizes in an isometric system. The melting point of thorium oxide is 3300 °C – the highest of all known oxides. Only a few elements (including tungsten and carbon) and a few compounds (including tantalum carbide) have higher melting points. All thorium compounds are radioactive because there are no stable isotopes of thorium.

Gas tungsten arc welding welding process that uses a non-consumable tungsten electrode

Gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW), also known as tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding, is an arc welding process that uses a non-consumable tungsten electrode to produce the weld. The weld area and electrode is protected from oxidation or other atmospheric contamination by an inert shielding gas, and a filler metal is normally used, though some welds, known as autogenous welds, do not require it. A constant-current welding power supply produces electrical energy, which is conducted across the arc through a column of highly ionized gas and metal vapors known as a plasma.

Borosilicate glass type of glass with silica and boron trioxide as the main glass-forming constituents

Borosilicate glass is a type of glass with silica and boron trioxide as the main glass-forming constituents. Borosilicate glasses are known for having very low coefficients of thermal expansion, making them resistant to thermal shock, more so than any other common glass. Such glass is less subject to thermal stress and is commonly used for the construction of reagent bottles. Borosilicate glass is sold under such trade names as Borcam, Borosil, DURAN, Suprax, Simax, BSA 60, BSC 51, Heatex, Endural, Schott, Refmex, Kimble, MG(India) and some items sold under different trade names.

Molten salt reactor class of nuclear fission reactors with molten salt as the primary coolant or the fuel

A molten salt reactor (MSR) is a class of nuclear fission reactor in which the primary nuclear reactor coolant and/or the fuel is a molten salt mixture. MSRs offer multiple advantages over conventional nuclear power plants, although for historical reasons, they have not been deployed.

Although thorium (90Th) has 6 naturally occurring isotopes, none of these isotopes are stable; however, one isotope, 232Th, is relatively stable, with a half-life of 1.405×1010 years, considerably longer than the age of the Earth, and even slightly longer than the generally accepted age of the universe. This isotope makes up nearly all natural thorium. As such, thorium is considered to be mononuclidic. However, in 2013 IUPAC reclassified thorium as binuclidic, due to large amounts in 230Th in deep seawater. Thorium has a characteristic terrestrial isotopic composition and thus a standard atomic weight can be given.

Lanthanum oxide Chemical compound

Lanthanum oxide, also known as lanthana, chemical formula La2O3, is an inorganic compound containing the rare earth element lanthanum and oxygen. It is used in some ferroelectric materials, as a component of optical materials, and is a feedstock for certain catalysts, among other uses.

Hot cathode Type of electrode.

In vacuum tubes and gas-filled tubes, a hot cathode or thermionic cathode is a cathode electrode which is heated to make it emit electrons due to thermionic emission. This is in contrast to a cold cathode, which does not have a heating element. The heating element is usually an electrical filament heated by a separate electric current passing through it. Hot cathodes typically achieve much higher power density than cold cathodes, emitting significantly more electrons from the same surface area. Cold cathodes rely on field electron emission or secondary electron emission from positive ion bombardment, and do not require heating. There are two types of hot cathode. In a directly heated cathode, the filament is the cathode and emits the electrons. In an indirectly heated cathode, the filament or heater heats a separate metal cathode electrode which emits the electrons.

Spent nuclear fuel nuclear fuel that has been irradiated in a nuclear reactor (usually at a nuclear power plant)

Spent nuclear fuel, occasionally called used nuclear fuel, is nuclear fuel that has been irradiated in a nuclear reactor. It is no longer useful in sustaining a nuclear reaction in an ordinary thermal reactor and depending on its point along the nuclear fuel cycle, it may have considerably different isotopic constituents.

Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORM) and Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (TENORM) consist of materials, usually industrial wastes or by-products enriched with radioactive elements found in the environment, such as uranium, thorium and potassium and any of their decay products, such as radium and radon.

The Canon FD 35mm f/2.0 lens was manufactured by Canon for the FD lens mount. It was sold in a number of variations over the years, and was the fastest Canon lens in the 35mm focal length before the debut of the EF 35mm f1.4.

Liquid fluoride thorium reactor

The liquid fluoride thorium reactor is a type of molten salt reactor. LFTRs use the thorium fuel cycle with a fluoride-based, molten, liquid salt for fuel. In a typical design, the liquid is pumped between a critical core and an external heat exchanger where the heat is transferred to a nonradioactive secondary salt. The secondary salt then transfers its heat to a steam turbine or closed-cycle gas turbine.

Low-dispersion glass is a type of glass with low dispersion. Crown glass is an example of a relatively inexpensive low-dispersion glass.

Precision glass moulding

Precision glass moulding is a replicative process that allows the production of high precision optical components from glass without grinding and polishing. The process is also known as ultra-precision glass pressing. It is used to manufacture precision glass lenses for consumer products such as digital cameras, and high-end products like medical systems. The main advantage over mechanical lens production is that complex lens geometries such as aspheres can be produced cost-efficiently.

Cerium Chemical element with atomic number 58

Cerium is a chemical element with symbol Ce and atomic number 58. Cerium is a soft, ductile and silvery-white metal that tarnishes when exposed to air, and it is soft enough to be cut with a knife. Cerium is the second element in the lanthanide series, and while it often shows the +3 oxidation state characteristic of the series, it also exceptionally has a stable +4 state that does not oxidize water. It is also considered one of the rare-earth elements. Cerium has no biological role and is not very toxic.

Yttralox transparent ceramic

Yttralox is a transparent ceramic consisting of yttria (Y2O3) containing approximately 10% thorium dioxide (ThO2). It was one of the first transparent ceramics produced, and was invented in 1966 by Richard C. Anderson at the General Electric Research Laboratory while sintering mixtures of rare earth minerals.

Canon FD 55mm f/1.2 AL

The Canon FD 55mm ƒ/1.2 AL is a camera lens made by Canon, first introduced alongside the Canon F-1 single-lens reflex camera in March 1971. It was the first lens for any 35mm SLR system to incorporate an aspherical element. The lens was manufactured until 1980.


  1. Robert C. McMillan & Steven A. Horne: Eye Exposure from Thoriated Optical Glass (U.S. Army memo)
  2. "Radioactive Camera Lenses from the recent past".
  3. Bach, Hans; Neuroth, Norbert (1998-08-06). The Properties of Optical Glass. Springer Science & Business Media. ISBN   9783540583578.
  4. "Radiation-induced Discoloration" (PDF). BIRNS, Inc .