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Old 10-22-2008, 10:31 PM #1
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Default Scotch Tape Emits X-Rays

I'm sure many of you saw this on Slashdot, but to those who don't read there regularly:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27323869/

From the article:

NEW YORK - Just two weeks after a Nobel Prize highlighted theoretical work on subatomic particles, physicists are announcing a startling discovery about a much more familiar form of matter: Scotch tape.

It turns out that if you peel the popular adhesive tape off its roll in a vacuum chamber, it emits X-rays. The researchers even made an X-ray image of one of their fingers

...

In the new work, a machine peeled ordinary Scotch tape off a roll in a vacuum chamber at about 1.2 inches per second. Rapid pulses of X-rays, each about a billionth of a second long, emerged from very close to where the tape was coming off the roll.

That's where electrons jumped from the roll to the sticky underside of the tape that was being pulled away, a journey of about two-thousandths of an inch, Escobar said. When those electrons struck the sticky side they slowed down, and that slowing made them emit X-rays.

So is this a health hazard for unsuspecting tape-peelers?

Escobar noted that no X-rays are produced in the presence of air. You need to work in a vacuum not exactly an everyday situation.

---------------------------------------------

So, how did this become a thesis idea for a graduate student? Is he going to get a Ph.D on the dissertation topic of "Spontaneous X-Ray Emission from Separation of Layers of Normal Scotch(tm) Tape"? Just amazing what cool things can happen with everyday stuff.

And Scotch tape is getting more scientific every day apparently. Background to my story: Graphene is a monolayer of carbon (think taking a carbon nanotube, slicing it, and unrolling it into a sheet; or, taking the layers of graphite, and instead of having many layers stacked together, it's just one sheet. It's literally a 1 atom thick sheet of atoms, as close to a 2-D object as we're likely to ever see).

Where Scotch tape comes in, is that graphene was first isolated and observed using Scotch tape. They literally just stick the tape to a piece of graphite, and peel it back off. When it comes off, it will pull carbon with it. Not just monolayers, but monolayers, double sheets, triple sheets, and bigger sections. So you take the tape, with the carbon stuck to it, and put it in a microscope (TEM, AFM, STM) and go looking for the pieces of carbon that came off that are only 1 atom thick, and those sections are graphene. Now, they have slightly better ways of making it (a little more technical to explain), but many people working on it still use the Scotch tape method because it's so quick and easy. Just a piece of tape and graphite, and throw it in your microscope and with time and luck, you'll have several little samples of graphene to work with.


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Old 10-23-2008, 06:55 PM #2
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Default Re: Scotch Tape Emits X-Rays

; ZOMG. I'm telling my physics teacher that when I see him ! He won't believe me but I'll show him the article !

Great discovery!

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Old 10-23-2008, 07:29 PM #3
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Default Re: Scotch Tape Emits X-Rays

weeeeeeiirrrrd!

but very cool! anyone try this yet? i dont have a vacuum chamber so i cant do much lol
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Old 10-23-2008, 10:44 PM #4
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Default Re: Scotch Tape Emits X-Rays

Naw, haven't tried it yet. *The people who control the vacuum chambers I have access to frown heavily upon putting things like tape or other polymers into the chambers. *And it's not trivial to do this, either. *I don't know what kind of vacuum they need, but I imagine it has to be pretty high vacuum (high vacuum = low pressure). *So you're probably looking at the standard stainless chamber with a 2-pump system with the electrical pass-throughs and all other equipment, $Texas. *And then a custom-built tape unrolling machine to boot! *Not exactly something that most people can do at home.

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Old 10-26-2008, 09:09 PM #5
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Default Re: Scotch Tape Emits X-Rays

I saw this on the news last week. They didn't mention that it needs to be in a vacuum... Probably making people stop using Scotch tape. : Now, lets see if Duct-tape emits gamma rays. ;D
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Old 10-26-2008, 09:34 PM #6
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Default Re: Scotch Tape Emits X-Rays

Well this just makes me think... if scotch tap emits x-rays? what would duct tape produce?
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Old 10-27-2008, 12:00 AM #7
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Default Re: Scotch Tape Emits X-Rays

Does that mean that scotch tape is hazardous in space?
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Old 10-29-2008, 02:13 PM #8
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Default Re: Scotch Tape Emits X-Rays

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimmymcjimthejim
Does that mean that scotch tape is hazardous in space?
Maybe if you use it all the time *;D

Quote:
Originally Posted by laserwanabe
Well this just makes me think... if scotch tap emits x-rays? what would duct tape produce?
Makes me wonder what other day-to-day items emit dangerous rays :-/
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Old 10-29-2008, 02:27 PM #9
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Default Re: Scotch Tape Emits X-Rays

Obviously the article is slightly vague. I mean, it's short, with no real explanation. Is it the friction that causes it? Does the tape actually store energy for releasing x-rays after you remove it from the vacuum chamber?

[next thread: How do I build a vacuum chamber? ] ;D
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Old 10-29-2008, 02:32 PM #10
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Default Re: Scotch Tape Emits X-Rays

Quote:
That's where electrons jumped from the roll to the sticky underside of the tape that was being pulled away, a journey of about two-thousandths of an inch, Escobar said. When those electrons struck the sticky side they slowed down, and that slowing made them emit X-rays.
Static electricity perhaps? :-/ What if you pump the tape with a serious amount of electrons, eh?


Btw, what's wrong with polymers in a vacuum chamber?
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Old 10-29-2008, 02:51 PM #11
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Default Re: Scotch Tape Emits X-Rays

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ace82
Obviously the article is slightly vague. *I mean, it's short, with no real explanation. *Is it the friction that causes it? *Does the tape actually store energy for releasing x-rays after you remove it from the vacuum chamber? *

[next thread: How do I build a vacuum chamber? ] *;D
X-ray machines work by bombarding a piece of metal with high energy electrons (in a vacuum tube). Adhesives work by electrostatic attraction, van der waals forces, and even hydrogen bonding. The properties vary depending on the adhesive but one constant thing is the interchange of electrons between closely packed molecules. My suspicion is that when the tape is removed, electrons try to stabilize the electrical gradients created with the above bonding techniques causing electrons to jump across the gap created as the tape is removed. As such you now have electrons moving that will &quot;bombard&quot; the target. The electrical gradients create a sort of small particle accelerator.

There is no means of storing x-rays. They only occur during energy transfer. The tape is not radioactive.
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Old 11-03-2008, 07:35 PM #12
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Default Re: Scotch Tape Emits X-Rays

It's because the charge produced when unrolling tape works exactly like a whimhurst machine. My guess is when it discharges in vacuo to the adhesive which is made of silicone, x-rays are generated when the silicon is bombarded.

FWIW, The charge generated in air can exceed about 3KV, and in vacuum, 20+KV would be possible.
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Old 11-03-2008, 07:47 PM #13
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Default Re: Scotch Tape Emits X-Rays

I thought this had something to do with sonoluminescence... the same effect produced by snapping shrimp or wint-o-green lifesavers...
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Old 11-03-2008, 07:48 PM #14
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Default Re: Scotch Tape Emits X-Rays

ahh, yes... it's Triboluminescence, actually.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triboluminescence
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Old 11-16-2008, 05:14 AM #15
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Default Re: Scotch Tape Emits X-Rays


The amount of X-rays from the tape in the vacuum reported is significant enough to expose some types of film.
There is some practical applications with this discovery... I think the discovery is quite remarkable!!
However, there are lots of other things that are equally as amazing as this discovery.
Nature makes X-rays all the time. --- Lightning is also a source of X-rays
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Old 11-16-2008, 09:51 AM #16
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Default Re: Scotch Tape Emits X-Rays

Quote:
Originally Posted by pullbangdead
You need to work in a vacuum not exactly an everyday situation.
You heard the man! If your job sucks, stay away from tape. Safety first.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FrothyChimp
My suspicion is that when the tape is removed, electrons try to stabilize the electrical gradients created with the above bonding techniques causing electrons to jump across the gap created as the tape is removed.
Or more succinctly: static discharge?
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