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Windowless Alpha/beta detectors


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Materials, Sensors, Battlespace, Nuclear 

OBJECTIVE: Develop a rugged alpha/beta detector that does not possess a fragile window common to alpha/beta detectors on the market today. This will enable both military and commercial users with a more durable instrument without the service interruptions due to punctures to the window. 

DESCRIPTION: Radiation detection media is typically housed behind rugged packaging which protects it from the elements and allows the packaging to be cleaned to prevent unintended source identification. Due to the short range of alpha/beta particles in matter, detectors for the identification of these particles must be packaged behind a thin window, usually aluminized Mylar. However, this provides a structural weakness that is easily punctured or damaged in field conditions. This impacts logistics, cost, and operational efficiency. DTRA seeks an alternative that would allow for use without risk of damage to a window. This capability would provide value in non-military environments such as factories or industrial areas where radioactive materials may be present. This capability should allow for field use, with minimal or no consumables, and sensitivity to low-energy alpha and beta particles (<1 MeV). The device should be easily hand portable. 

PHASE I: Develop, evaluate, and validate innovative techniques, concepts, and/or a breadbroad prototype for use in an alpha/beta detector without a thin window. By the end of phase one, techniques, concepts, and/or a breadboard prototype should have been demonstrated to have the potential for fulfilling a fully integrated prototype. 

PHASE II: Develop a prototype and demonstrate its ability to meet the requirements provided in the description. An assessment regarding the performance and the ability to perform in field conditions will be performed. This phase will utilize the materials and techniques developed in Phase I of this research. Develop manufacturing and commercialization plans for implementing the research into production and then into the marketplace. 

PHASE III: In addition to applications of interest to DTRA, the alpha/beta detector without a thin window will have applications in industry and power generation. 


1: G. Knoll, Radiation Detection and Measurement. John Wiley & Sons (2010)

2:  S.H. Hwang, J.M. Lee, K.B. Lee, T.S.Park, "Development of a windowless multi-wire proportional chamber (MWPC) counting system for measuring extended-area beta source," Applied Radiation and Isotopes, Volume 126, Pages 175-178 (2017)

3:  Ü. Ören, J. Nilsson, L. Herrnsdorf, C.L. Rääf, S. Mattsson, "Silicon diode as an alpha particle detector and spectrometer for direct field measurements," Radiation Protection Dosimetry, Volume 170, Issue 1-4, Pages 247–251 (2016)

KEYWORDS: Alpha Detection, Beta Detection, Contamination Monitoring 

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