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Autoradiography

developed specimen radiation image

DAVID MALIN
Anglo-Australian Observatory, RMIT University

Autoradiography is the creation of a photographic image using radiation emitted from a specimen in direct contact with a photo-sensitive material, so the image is a self-portrait of the radiation-emitting parts of the specimen. The technique can involve tagging specimens of almost any sort with radioactive tracers that are selectively taken up by molecules, chemical compounds, cells, gels, cracks, or interfaces.

Because the specimen is in contact with the light-sensitive material, the developed images are often finely detailed and may need interpretation by microscopy. The results can also be quantitative since the amount of developed silver is directly proportional to the amount of radiation, and there is no reciprocity failure.

The French physicist Henri Becquerel (1852–1908) accidentally made the first autoradiograph in 1896, when he stored crystals containing radioactive uranium against a photographic plate wrapped in opaque paper. The developed plate showed structure in the crystals. This was one of Becquerel’s many discoveries concerning radioactivity that led to the 1903 Nobel Prize in physics which he shared with Marie and Pierre Curie.

Autry, Gene (originally Orvin Gene Autry) [next] [back] Authoring and Specification

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