Biological Applications of Liquid Scintillation Counting by Yutaka Kobayashi

By Yutaka Kobayashi

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The higher the figure of merit, the less counting time is required to achieve the statistical accuracy desired. In new counters, a figure of merit in excess of 350 for carbon-14 and over 150 for tritium for a standard toluene sample prepared in air may be expected. The figures of merit quoted by manufacturers for tritium range from 120 to 200 and for carbon-14 from 300 to over 400. These figures, however, are obtained using unquenched, oxygen-free standards. In practice, the figures of merit obtained with most laboratory samples are much lower.

The essential ingredients of a counting solution, in addition to the sample itself, are a solvent and a scintillator. To these are often added secondary solvents and scintillators, the former to facilitate sample preparation and the latter to give increased counting efficiencies. Before the sample itself is dealt with, the various components of the counting solution are discussed. SCINTILLATORS A primary scintillator should exhibit the following characteristics. a. A high efficiency of light production when activated by radiation b.

When present in high concentrations, the secondary scintillator is, in part, acting like a primary scintillator. Furthermore, under these conditions the secondary scintillator may compete with the quenching agent and reduce the quenching of the primary scintillator. The secondary scintillators are of little value when used alone because of their limited solubility. Although secondary scintillators are routinely Secondary Scintillators 45 added to most counting solutions, such primary scintillators as butyl-PBD often render their inclusion unnecessary.

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