Gamma radiation

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Very high energy electromagnetic radiation: energy range from some keV to some MeV, i.e. wavelengths in the range of 0.15 - 0.005 nm. Gamma radiation, first named by Ernest Rutherford in 1903 (Nobel prize of chemistry in 1908), are emitted during radioactive decay processes of certain radioisotopes. They penetrate matter deeply. In the cultural heritage area, gamma radiation have been used for non destructive examination of objects by Gamma radiography (mainly using iridium 192 or cobalt 60) and in some cases of conservation-preservation processes to kill insects, fungi, molds or bacteria infecting cultural heritage artifacts collections using intense sealed sources of cobalt 60.

Synonyms and Related Terms

gamma rays; rayonnement gamma (Fr.); photon gamma (Fr.); Gamma Strahlung (Deut.); radiazione gamma (It.); radiação gama (Port.); radiacion gamma (Esp.)


  • Exposure to gamma radiation is dangerous for the human health.
  • Gamma radiation may polymerize resins and decrease mechanical strength of organic materials like paper, plastics, canvas...

Resources and Citations

  • G.Caneva, M.P.Nugari, O.Salvadori, Biology in the Conservation of Works of Art, ICCROM, Rome, 1991
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998