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Gamma radiation has been used in refining, mining, chemicals, food, soaps and detergents, and pulp and paper industries, to measure of levels of materials, density, and thicknesses. Gamma radiation can also be used to kill living organisms, in applications of the sterilization of medical equipment (as an alternative to autoclaves or chemical means), the removal of decay-causing bacteria from many foods and the prevention of the sprouting of fruit and vegetables to maintain freshness and flavor.

The NSC is equipped with two separate locations (Tube A & B) for irradiation of samples with gamma radiation.


Previous irradiations at the NSC have been used for a wide array of research including cell, plasma, and biological material/soil sterilization. The gamma-ray source has also facilitated the mutation of seeds, the examination of the radiation degradation effects of various compounds, and the performance of radiation damage studies in electronic components.

Samples to be irradiated are placed in a basket (pictured to the right) and lowered to the Co-60 gamma source, down either Tube A or B, for a designated amount of time. The basket is 5″ in diameter and 9″ in length. Samples must fit in this basket to be run.

Samples are not radioactive after removal from the Co-60 source and can be handled under normal protocols.

To inquire the availability of the current Co-60 source, please contact Zachariah Heiden

The average dosage of Co-60 source in Tube A, as of November 12th, 2021, is: 66 Rad /min (40 Gy/hour)

Tube A has a max dosage of 115 Rad/min (69 Gy/hour) at the bottom of the basket and 12 Rad/min (7 Gy/hour) at the top. Extended irradiations will need to be rotated at a specified schedule to obtain a uniform irradiation.

The Co-60 source was last calibrated on: January 14, 2016
A new calibration is currently underway and these values will be updated when it has been completed.


To request time for irradiation of a sample at the Co-60 source, please fill out the following form: