New hybrid detector monitors alpha, beta, and gamma radiation simultaneously

Nov 08, 2011

By combining three layers of detection into one new device, a team of researchers from Japan has proposed a new way to monitor radiation levels at power plant accident sites. The device would be more economical that using different devices to measure different types of radiation, and could limit the exposure times of clean-up workers by taking three measurements simultaneously. Radioactive decay produces three flavors of emissions: alpha, beta, and gamma.

Alpha particles comprise 2 neutrons and 2 protons. Because of their large mass and relatively slow speed, are the least penetrating of the three types of radiation, and can be stopped by a sheet of paper. Beta particles are electrons that can travel farther than alpha particles, but not as far as high-energy gamma photons, the third type of radiation. The researchers took advantage of the different penetrating properties of the three types of radiation to design their device. Their new has three scintillators, which are sheets of material that light up when hit by radiation. Alpha particles strike only the first scintillator, beta particles travel on to the second scintillator, and gamma photons make it all the way through to the third scintillator.

The scintillators were then coupled to a photomultiplier tube, a device that converts the light pulses into electrical current. Because the shape of a differs depending on which type of radiation produced it (alpha particles produce sharp peaks, gamma particles more broad pulses), the device could distinguish between the different radiation types and produce counts for all three simultaneously. The new device could be used for a range of applications in which scientists might need to determine the types of radioactive material present, the researchers write.

Explore further: Hide and seek: Sterile neutrinos remain elusive

More information: "Development of an alpha/beta/gamma detector for radiation monitoring" is accepted for publication in Review of Scientific Instruments.

Provided by American Institute of Physics

4.3 /5 (3 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

NPL builds long range alpha detector

Nov 01, 2010

The UK's National Physical Laboratory (NPL) has developed a new portable radiation detector that can assess the safety of potentially contaminated areas far quicker than current methods. The prototype was ...

Japan firm creates radiation-detecting plastic

Sep 07, 2011

Japan's Teijin Chemicals Limited said Wednesday it had created a plastic that emits a blue light when exposed to radioactivity, which it says will lead to cheaper radiation detectors.

New method for making improved radiation detectors

May 31, 2007

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory, with funding from DOE's National Nuclear Security Administration, have devised ways to improve the performance of radiation detectors, such as ...

Explained: rad, rem, sieverts, becquerels

Mar 28, 2011

Sometimes it must seem as though reports on releases of radioactive materials from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear powerplant in the wake of the devastating earthquake and tsunami are going out of their ...

Recommended for you

Hide and seek: Sterile neutrinos remain elusive

17 hours ago

The Daya Bay Collaboration, an international group of scientists studying the subtle transformations of subatomic particles called neutrinos, is publishing its first results on the search for a so-called ...

Novel approach to magnetic measurements atom-by-atom

21 hours ago

Having the possibility to measure magnetic properties of materials at atomic precision is one of the important goals of today's experimental physics. Such measurement technique would give engineers and physicists an ultimate ...

Scientists demonstrate Stokes drift principle

Oct 01, 2014

In nature, waves – such as those in the ocean – begin as local oscillations in the water that spread out, ripple fashion, from their point of origin. But fans of Star Trek will recall a different sort of wave pattern: ...

User comments : 0