γ-radiation effects on metal oxide particles and their wetted surfaces

Typical metal oxide corrosion products of structural materials have been irradiated with γ-rays in ultra-pure water to investigate the effect of radiation on the surface oxide and the nature of adsorbed water. Analysis techniques including thermal gravimetric analysis, differential thermal analysis, diffuse reflectance infrared Fourier transform spectroscopy, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy before and after γ-irradiation were employed to investigate surface structural effects and adsorbed water behaviour. The production of H2 in the oxide nanoparticle mixtures was investigated by gas chromatography to probe the mechanism of radiolysis in the water/oxide mixtures and the relationship with surface water. The nature of water at the surface of the oxides was affected by γ-radiation and the relationship was dependent on the particle composition. The rate of H2 production was shown to be oxide dependent, and higher rates of H2 formation were attributed to the decomposition of surface adsorbed water. Changes to the surface chemistry and H2 production rates were found to be highly dependent on the surface chemistry of the metal oxide nanoparticle and no bulk structural changes were observed.