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# Dimensional Threshold of Fluorescence

## The dimensional threshold of fluorescence is a property that is not currently controlled by

the specifications but appears to largely determine the sensitivity of a fluorescent
penetrant. A.L. Walters and R. C. McMaster conducted an experiment that led to the
understanding of this condition. Two optically flat plates of glass were clamped tightly
together. A drop of fluorescent penetrant was placed at the interface of the plates. The
penetrant could be seen migrating in between the plates but when exposed to black light,
no fluorescence was seen. The phenomenon was not fully understood until 1960 when
Alburger introduced the concept of thin-film transition of fluorescent response.
The dimensional magnitudes of typical crack defects correspond to the dimensional
thresholds of fluorescence response which are characteristic of the available penetrant.
Alternately stated, the degree of fluorescence response, under a given intensity of
ultraviolet radiation, is dependent on the absorption of ultraviolet radiation, which in turn
depends on dye concentration and film thickness. Therefore, the ability of a penetrant to
yield an indication depends primarily on its ability to fluoresce as a very thin film. The
performance of penetrants based on the physical constraints of the dyes can be predicted
using Beer's Law equation. This equation does not hold true when very thin layers are
involved but works well to establish general relationships between variables.

I = I x e-Ct
o

Where:
I = Transmitted light intensity
Io = Incident light intensity
e = Base of natural log (2.71828)
= Absorption coefficient per unit of concentration
C = Dye concentration
t = Thickness of the absorbing layer trolled to a certain degree by the concentration of the
fluorescent tracer dye in the penetrant.
This equation states that the intensity of the transmitted energy is directly proportional to
the intensity of the incident light and varies exponentially with the thickness of the
penetrant layer and its dye concentration. Therefore, when the dye concentration is
increased, the brightness of the thin layer of penetrant generally increases. However, the
dye concentration can only be increased so much before it starts to have a negative effect
of brightness. A Meniscus-Method Apparatus can be used to measure the dimensional
threshold of fluorescence.
References:

Alburger, J.R., Notes on the History of Testing Panels for Inspection Penetrants, Paper