J.L. Rogers, C.M. Marianno, G. Kallenbach, J.F. Trevino , “Modeling Study of a Proposed Field Calibration Source Using K-40 And High-Z Targets for Sodium Iodide Detectors”, Journal of Health Physics, 10, 6 (2016).
Calibration sources based on the primordial isotope potassium-40 (K) have reduced controls on the source’s activity due to its terrestrial ubiquity and very low specific activity. Potassium-40’s beta emissions and 1,460.8 keV gamma ray can be used to induce K-shell fluorescence x rays in high-Z metals between 60 and 80 keV. A gamma ray calibration source that uses potassium chloride salt and a high-Z metal to create a two-point calibration for a sodium iodide field gamma spectroscopy instrument is thus proposed. The calibration source was designed in collaboration with the Sandia National Laboratory using the Monte Carlo N-Particle eXtended (MCNPX) transport code. Two methods of x-ray production were explored. First, a thin high-Z layer (HZL) was interposed between the detector and the potassium chloride-urethane source matrix. Second, bismuth metal powder was homogeneously mixed with a urethane binding agent to form a potassium chloride-bismuth matrix (KBM). The bismuth-based source was selected as the development model because it is inexpensive, nontoxic, and outperforms the high-Z layer method in simulation. Based on the MCNPX studies, sealing a mixture of bismuth powder and potassium chloride into a thin plastic case could provide a light, inexpensive field calibration source.