Applications of deuterium oxide


Deuterium oxide or heavy water (D2O) is a form of water that is composed of deuterium and oxygen. Deuterium, also called heavy hydrogen is an isotope of hydrogen with a nucleus consisting of one proton and one neutron, which is double the mass of the nucleus of ordinary hydrogen. The presence of deuterium gives the chemical different nuclear properties, and the increase of mass gives it different physical and chemical properties compared to normal "light water". The main application of deuterium oxide (heavy water) is in heavy water reactors. Deuterium oxide is used as a moderator and heat transport system in certain types of heavy water nuclear reactors. The other applications of deuterium oxide are as follows: Deuterated drugs: lower rates of metabolism, and a longer half-life. Industry: fiber optics and silicon semiconductors manufacturing. Human health: metabolic studies using deuterium oxide tracer. Oil & hydrology: studies using deuterium oxide tracer. Scientific research: manufacturing deuterated products such as deuterated NMR solvents and deuterium labeled compounds. Physics: neutrino detector and fusion process development using deuterium oxide. Biological science: probing metabolic characteristics using deuterium oxide. Fiber Optics The distinctive behavior arising out of the isotope & deuterium bonding effects have found potential use in various industrial scopes. Various applications have been developed in the high tech area using some of the fundamental differences between hydrogen and deuterium. Optical fibers are widely used when transmitting data over longer distances and at higher bandwidths than traditional copper cables. Replacing the hydrogen with deuterium oxide in the fiber cables reduces the chemical reaction rate leading to the deterioration of the light transmission, improves the intensity and transmission characteristics and extends the life of the cable. Manufacturing of deuterium lamp Deuterium lamp (or deuterium arc lamp) is a low-pressure gas-discharge light source often used in spectroscopy when constant and intense ultraviolet light is required. These light sources utilize a heated tungsten filament that manufactures an arc to the anode in order to energize molecular deuterium for visible and infrared light production. Arc lamps are remarkable for their high performance in the ultraviolet, with relatively little output in the visible and infrared. Arc lamps made with ordinary light-hydrogen provide a very similar UV spectrum to deuterium and have been utilized as a part of UV spectroscopes. However, lamps using deuterium have a longer life span and intensity at the far end of their UV range which is three to five times that of a standard hydrogen arc bulb, at a similar temperature. Therefore, Deuterium lamps are considered a superior light source than light-hydrogen arc lamps, for the shortwave UV range. Treatment of semiconductor devices Deuterium oxide or heavy water is used in the production of deuterium gas, a form of naturally occurring pure hydrogen. The chemical formula of deuterium gas is 2H2 or D2 and its pure form is rarely seen in nature. Deuterium (D2) and deuterium-substituted gases are used in the manufacture of silicon semiconductors and microchips through the process of deuterium-protium exchange. Semiconductor device annealing process with deuterium at super-atmospheric pressures reduces the effects of hot carrier stress and improves the operating characteristics. This significantly enhances the life cycle of semiconductors and microchips. It enables chips to be made smaller, have high circuit densities and have a longer life cycle. NMR spectroscopy The NMR phenomenon is based on the interaction of the nuclei of specific atomic isotopes with a static magnetic field.


The utility of NMR arises from the fact that chemically distinct nuclei differ in resonance frequency in the same magnetic field. This phenomenon is known as the chemical shift. NMR spectroscopy is an essential tool for the determination of molecular structure, the study of molecular dynamics, and the characterization of materials at the molecular level by chemists, physicists, and molecular biologists. Deuterium oxide (D2O) is used in nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy when using water as a solvent if the nuclide of interest is hydrogen.


This is because the signal from light water solvent molecules interferes with observing the signal from the molecule of interest dissolved in it. Pharmacological use – Deuterated drugs Deuterium oxide or heavy water is widely used in studies of the metabolism of drugs in humans and other animals. Deuterium from deuterium oxide (D2O) can be exchanged directly into finished drug compounds. Deuterium containing or deuterated drug is a kind of medicine which one or more of its hydrogen atoms are substituted by deuterium atoms. Metabolic studies have shown that slower metabolism of deuterium-containing drugs often allows for a longer effective benefit, smaller or less frequent doses and fewer side effects of the drug. In April 2017 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first deuterated drug, AUSTEDO™ by Teva (previously referred to as SD-809). Austedo was developed for the treatment of chorea, random involuntary twisting movements, which is associated with Huntington’s disease. Oil & Hydrology - Core invasion studies using deuterium oxide tracer The main objective of a coring operation is to get accurate information about the oil reservoir. Parameters like oil and water composition determine the saturation levels of a reservoir. Information about the reservoir is evaluated by analysis of the collected cores and samples. In case of drilling mud core invasion, the recovered liquid does not represent the native liquid but rather a mixture of drilling fluid and reservoir fluid. The amount of coring fluid contamination contained in the formation water of a core sample can be determined using a tracer. Deuterium oxide or heavy water can be used to trace water base mud systems. Prior to coring, a quantity of deuterium oxide is added to the aqueous drilling fluid and samples of the coring fluid taken periodically before, during and after the coring process. The levels of deuterium in the extracted water and coring fluid samples can determine the contamination degree.

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