Development and application of novel tracers for environmental applications.
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ADAMS, M. 2010. Development and application of novel tracers for environmental applications. Robert Gordon University, PhD thesis.
Novel glass tracers, organic and inorganic polymers based on narrow band atomic fluorescence, have been developed for deployment as environmental tracers. The use of discrete fluorescent species in an environmentally stable host has been investigated to replace existing toxic, broad band molecular dye tracers. The narrow band emission signals offer the potential for the tracing of a large numbers of signals in the same environment; this has been investigated by examining multiple doped tracers which have the potential for coding to specific effluent sources or particulates. The concept of using lanthanide doped glasses as environmental tracers has been demonstrated. The spectral characterisation and concentration studies of the lanthanide doped tracer allow the selection of parameters to produce future tracers and detection systems for particular applications. Therefore by altering the chosen lanthanide dopant, number of dopants, dopant concentration and using selective excitation and emission wavelengths there are a huge number of possible unique tracer combinations. The significantly narrower bandwidth emission peaks of the lanthanide based tracers achieve more selective detection of multiple tracers without overlap interference and gives the potential to selectively and simultaneously monitor many different tracers in the same location. The spectral lifetime characteristics of the lanthanide tracers are very different from the lifetime of background fluorescence which is typically molecular in origin. This is an extra discrimination against background interference and is an important additional advantage of using lanthanide based tracers. Overall this work shows that a very large number of unique environmental tracers can be obtained by varying the concentration, the number of lanthanide ions in a glass and also the possibility of using organic and inorganic lanthanide chelate doped tracers.