Digital Radiation Spectrometer

A new digital radiation detector developed at Oregon State University provides a relatively small tool that is able to detect and measure several different kinds of radiation quickly and effectively. Interested, Mr. Spock?


(Radiation detector Oregon State University)

“Unlike other detectors, this spectrometer is more efficient, and able to measure and quantify both gamma and beta radiation at the same time,” said David Hamby, an OSU professor of health physics. “Before this two different types of detectors and other chemical tests were needed in a time-consuming process.”

“This system will be able to provide accurate results in 15 minutes that previously might have taken half a day,” Hamby said. “That saves steps, time and money.”

The spectrometer, developed over 10 years by Hamby and Abi Farsoni, an assistant professor in the College of Engineering, can quickly tell the type and amount of radionuclides that are present in something like a soil sample – contaminants such as cesium 137 or strontium 90 - that were produced from reactor operations. And it can distinguish between gamma rays and beta particles, which is necessary to determine the level of contamination.

“Cleaning up radioactive contamination is something we can do, but the process is costly, and often the question when working in the field is how clean is clean enough,” Hamby said. “At some point the remaining level of radioactivity is not a concern. So we need the ability to do frequent and accurate testing to protect the environment while also controlling costs.”

As with all good sfnal devices, like the Star Trek tricorder, the digital radiation spectrometer is a general purpose hand-held tool that is perfect for quick, incisive analysis.


(Spock's Tricorder - Detail)

From NEW TECHNOLOGY TO SPEED CLEANUP OF NUCLEAR-CONTAMINATED SITES (OSU press release) via IBtimes; thanks to Winchell Chung for the tip on this story.

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