A process for mitigating or eliminating contamination and/or degradation of surfaces having common, adventitious atmospheric contaminants adsorbed thereon and exposed to radiation. A gas or a mixture of gases is introduced into the environment of a surface(s) to be protected. The choice of the gaseous species to be introduced (typically a hydrocarbon gas, water vapor, or oxygen or mixtures thereof) is dependent upon the contaminant as well as the ability of the gaseous species to bind to the surface to be protected. When the surface and associated bound species are exposed to radiation reactive species are formed that react with surface contaminants such as carbon or oxide films to form volatile products (e.g., CO, CO.sub.2) which desorb from the surface.
STATEMENT OF GOVERNMENT INTEREST
This invention was made with Government support under contract no. DE-AC04-94AL85000 awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy to Sandia Corporation. The Government has certain rights in the invention.