Green lightweight lead-free Gd2O3/epoxy nanocomposites with outstanding X-ray attenuation performance

Document Type

Journal Article


Pergamon Press

Place of Publication

United Kingdom


School of Engineering


Originally published as: La, L. B., Leatherday, C., Leong, Y. K., Watts, H. P., & Zhang, L. C. (2018). Green lightweight lead-free Gd 2 O 3/epoxy nanocomposites with outstanding X-ray attenuation performance. Composites Science and Technology. 163, 89-95. Original article available here.


This work describes the design, preparation, and characterization of an environmentally friendly, clinically safe, and lightweight Gd2O3/epoxy nanocomposite (Gd nanocomposite) that can provide an alternative to traditional toxic lead (Pb)-based materials for diagnostic X-ray protection. Based on the effect of inter-particle forces, the adsorption of sodium dodecyl sulphate (SDS) surfactant on the surface of ultrafine ball milled Gd2O3 reduces the agglomeration and aggregation in nanoparticle preparation and dispersion in the polymer matrix, thereby improving the attenuation properties of this material per unit area. While an 8 mm-thick Gd nanocomposite with volume fractions (ϕs) of 0.10, 0.12, and 0.14 can reduce transmitted X-ray intensity by about 93–99%, a 16 mm composite thickness (ϕs = 0.12) can achieve more than 99% protection in the energy range 60–120 kVp. These specimens show comparable attenuation efficiency with the pure lead sheets of 0.25, 0.35, 0.5, and 1 mm thickness that are standardly used in radiology protection. The mass of the Gd nanocomposite (ϕs = 0.14, 8 mm thickness) X-ray protection screen needed is significantly lighter than that made from concrete, glass, and wood at the same attenuation performance (97–99% attenuation). The synthesized material also introduced in this article, with 36–48% less weight, shows better attenuation proficiency than three other lightweight commercial non-Pb composite products above 73 kVp. The X-ray attenuation efficiency per unit area mass of the Gd composite with ϕs of 0.1 attained the highest value of ∼0.88 (cm2/g) which is equal to that of pure Pb. This work proposes a way to produce an environmentally safe, lightweight composite with prominent X-ray attenuation properties.



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