Particle loading as a design parameter for composite radiation shielding

N. Baumann, K. Marquez Diaz, K. Simmons-Potter, B. G. Potter, J. Bucay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


An evaluation of the radiation shielding performance of high-Z-particle-loaded polylactic acid (PLA) composite materials was pursued. Specimens were produced via fused deposition modeling (FDM) using copper-PLA, steel-PLA, and BaSO4-PLA composite filaments containing 82.7, 75.2, and 44.6 wt% particulate phase contents, respectively, and were tested under broad-band flash x-ray conditions at the Sandia National Laboratories HERMES III facility. The experimental results for the mass attenuation coefficients of the composites were found to be in good agreement with GEANT4 simulations carried out using the same exposure conditions and an atomistic mixture as a model for the composite materials. Further simulation studies, focusing on the Cu-PLA composite system, were used to explore a shield design parameter space (in this case, defined by Cu-particle loading and shield areal density) to assess performance under both high-energy photon and electron fluxes over an incident energy range of 0.5–15 MeV. Based on these results, a method is proposed that can assist in the visualization and isolation of shield parameter coordinate sets that optimize performance under targeted radiation characteristics (type, energy). For electron flux shielding, an empirical relationship was found between areal density (AD), electron energy (E), composition and performance. In cases where [Formula presented] MeV∙cm∙g−1, a shield composed of >85 wt% Cu results in optimal performance. In contrast, a shield composed of <10 wt% Cu is anticipated to perform best against electron irradiation when [Formula presented] MeV∙cm∙g−1.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalNuclear Engineering and Technology
StatePublished - Oct 2022


  • Additive manufacturing
  • Monte carlo simulation
  • Polymer composite
  • Radiation shielding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering


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