The classic picture of whirling electrons around the nucleus left a strong mark in my mind ever since I saw it in my textbook during my junior school. I chose to major in Physics and received my Bachelor of Science degree from Guru Nanak Dev University, India. And after that I continued with my master’s degree, in Physics. However, my thirst for exploring the atom urged me to delve deeper, and pursue research in Atomic Physics. I joined Prof. Devinder Mehta’s laboratory at the Panjab University, India. A year and a half later, I earned my Master of Philosophy degree. I enjoyed learning new analytical techniques at the lab and to further my knowledge, I joined the Ph.D. program and pursued research in Atomic Spectroscopy at Prof. Mehta’s lab. My doctoral research focused on employing analytical techniques like XRD, XRF, SEM, TEM to identify, quantify and propose solutions to problems in the domains of Human Health and Environment. I liked the fact that these Atomic Physics techniques could be applied to domains as different as chalk and cheese.
Photon-Atom Interaction Processes
A part of my doctoral research focuses on investigation of inner-shell vacancy decay processes through X-ray emission. The photon-atom interaction studies include investigations of different phenomenon following the inner-shell vacancy production, Rayleigh scattering, Compton scattering and resonant Raman scattering. It involved measurements of X-ray fluorescence cross-sections, fluorescence yields and vacancy transfer probabilities and scattering cross sections done using energy-dispersive spectrometers and radioactive sources/X-ray tubes as photon sources. The following experiments were carried out:
• Investigation of the Li (i = 1-3) subshell radiative vacancy decay following photoionization/RRS processes in elements with 34 ≤ Z ≤ 51.
• Measurements of Li (i = 1-3) subshell X-ray fluorescence intensity ratios and chemical shift in 79Au in its various chemical forms.
• XANES (X-ray Absorption Near Edge Structure) spectroscopic studies at L3 edge of 79Au in its various chemical forms at the EXAFS beamline at 2 GeV INDUS-2 Synchrotron source.
• Measurements of the elastic and inelastic differential scattering cross section of the Mn Kα X-ray photons from various polymers in solid and liquid phase and comparison with the theoretical values.
• Synthesis and characterization of ferroelectric (perovskite) ceramics – BaTiO3, SrTiO3 and Sr2TiO4.
Sources of Uranium Contamination in Ground Water
Elemental analysis and chemical phase identification of di-ammonium phosphate fertilizers and fly-ash to estimate the uranium contamination in ground water resources was performed. These measurements were carried out using energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence (EDXRF) set up involving LEGe/Si(Li) detector and 55Fe/241Am radioactive source and wavelength dispersive X-ray fluorescence (WDXRF) set up consisting NaI(Tl) and gas flow detectors and X-ray tube source. Further, XRD and CHNSO analytical techniques were also used for characterization of samples relevant to the studies. Our study revealed that the uranium contamination in ground water of the Malwa region in India is not due to flyash from the thermal power plants, though flyash could be the source of 35Br and 42Mo contamination. Further we also found that even though fertilizers contribute a lot to the overall chemical contamination of ground water, their uranium contamination is negligibly small.
Elemental Analysis of Ayurvedic Medicines
As another application of radiative decay based X-ray fluorescence (XRF) technique, I performed elemental analysis of the traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicines of the Ras family. The therapeutic efficacy and toxicological perceptions associated with these medicines were studied. The estimated daily intake of Mercury, Lead, Tin and Arsenic metal contents through the Ayurvedic medicines were found to be of 2 to 3 orders of magnitude higher than the permissible limits. We also noticed large variations in the ingredient concentrations from different manufacturers.
• Energy-Dispersive X-ray Fluorescence (EDXRF) Technique
• Wavelength-Dispersive X-ray Fluorescence (WDXRF) Technique
• X-ray Diffraction
• X-ray Absorption Fine Structure (EXAFS and XANES)
• UV/Vis and FTIR spectroscopy
• Thin Film Coating Techniques
For more details about the research conducted in the Borch group please click here.
Heena Duggal, Veena Sharma, Sanjeev Kumar and D. Mehta, “Li subshell (i = 1-3) radiative vacancy decay following photoionization and RRS processes in elements with Z= 34-51”, communicated (2017).
Khushboo, S. R. Abhilash, G. R. Umapathy, H. Duggal, D. Kabiraj, S. Mandal,”Engineering strain to achieve stable 92Zr targets on carbon backing”, accepted in Vacuum.
Arun Upmanyu, Gurjot Singh, Heena Duggal, H. S. Kainth, Atul Bhalla, Sanjeev Kumar, “Measurement of large angle Rayleigh scattering cross sections for 39.5, 40.1 and 45.4 keV photons in elements with 26 ≤ Z ≤ 83 “, Applied Radiation and Isotopes 128 (2017) 125.
Heena Duggal, Atul Bhalla, Sanjeev Kumar, J.S. Shahi and D. Mehta, “Elemental analysis of condiments, food additives and edible salts using x-ray Fluorescence technique”, Int. J. Pharm. Sci. Rev. Res., 35 (2015) 126.
Atul Bhalla¬, Heena Duggal, J. S. Shahi, Bimal Rai and D. Mehta, “A study of toxicity of selenium, uranium and bromine in ground water of Punjab state of India”, J. Wat. Res. 136 (2014) 278.
For more publications in the Borch group please click here.
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