Thursday, 23 Oct, 2008 Science

Scientists Might Use Scotch Tape to Perform X-rays In Future


Recently a team of scientists at the University of California in Los Angeles discovered that the commonly used scotch tape can be applied to take X-rays. It was found that the peeling tape discharges small bursts of X-rays, which have enough power to take pictures of bones.

American scientists were rather intrigued after they heard that back in 1950s scientists from the Soviet Union discovered that when the sticky tape is separated at a certain speed it discharged pulses in the X-ray part of the energy spectrum.

The details of the research were published in the British science journal "Nature." In their study researchers used a motorized peeling machine in order to unwind a usual roll of scotch at a speed of 3cm(1.18in)/second.

After storing the machine in a vacuum, scientists could estimate X-rays that had enough power to take pictures.

"We didn't believe it. We really didn't think it could be true. We took some pictures of our hands to see the bones and prove that it was possible. We have a whole collection (of pictures)... it is absolutely remarkable," said Carlos Camara, the co-author of the research.

Scientists still haven't figured out why such a phenomenon takes place. However, they say that the key theory is triboluminescence. It takes place when two surfaces, getting in touch with each other, move relative to each other. The theory states that the sticky acrylic glue becomes positively charged when the scotch tape unwinds. At the same time the polyethylene roll is charged negatively, reports

When the level of atmospheric pressure is low, the mechanical procedure of pulling apart two surfaces leads to discharges of energy that are generated by electric fields. Thus electrons on the glue are accelerated to high speeds and during the collision with the scotch roll, which is positively charged, X-ray result.

Dr Camara said that one day the X-ray machines would be available at a much cheaper price that the machines used today, which need continuous radioactive source and an expert to handle such a device.

"There's lots of room for improvement. Just peeling tape is the quickest, cheapest way to provide X-rays... It's X-rays for everyone," said Dr Camara.

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