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Image Lead-glass viewing window for radioactive 'hot cell', 1958-2007

TLF ID M000372

This is a lead-glass window used by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, New South Wales. The thick glass has a yellow tinge from the presence of a small amount of cerium. Cerium is added to prevent the glass gradually turning brown from radiation damage. The glass is fitted within a grey lead frame.

Educational details

Educational value
  • Lead glass is a high-density shielding glass that is formulated to provide attenuation of high radioactive fields while presenting a safe viewing medium into a 'hot cell' of a nuclear reactor. Typically the content of lead oxide in the glass is 65 per cent or more for use in radiation shielding.
  • A hot cell is a heavily shielded room in which radioactive materials can be handled remotely using robotic or otherwise remote manipulators while being viewed through shielded windows. Many hot cells have walls of concrete or metal of a metre or more in thickness. These allow extremely radioactive items to be manipulated without exposing operators to dangerous amounts of radiation.
  • Hot cells are used to inspect spent nuclear fuel rods and to work with other items that are high-energy gamma-ray emitters. For instance, the processing of medical isotopes that have been irradiated in a nuclear reactor or particle accelerator would be carried out in a hot cell.
  • Leaded glasses have a very high density due to their lead oxide content. The lead shields a user from the radiation emitted by the isotope. Lead is a particularly effective radiation shield because lead has a high atomic number of 82 and its many electrons absorb the gamma rays and x-rays.

Other details

  • Contributor
  • Name: Powerhouse Museum
  • Organization: Powerhouse Museum
  • Description: Content provider
  • Address: NSW, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Publisher
  • Name: Powerhouse Museum
  • Organization: Powerhouse Museum
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: NSW, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
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Learning Resource Type
  • Image
  • © Curriculum Corporation and Trustees of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences 2009 (except where otherwise indicated). You may view, display, print out, copy and modify this material for non-commercial educational purposes provided you retain all acknowledgements associated with the material.Museum 2008