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Low-Cost Gamma Dose Rate Technology for Military Operations

Description:

TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Nuclear

OBJECTIVE: Develop and demonstrate very low-cost gamma dose rate sensors that are applicable for the wide range of military operations: very rugged, able to work in all military environments, nuclear survivable, and low SWAP (size, weight, and power).

DESCRIPTION: The United States Department of Defense (DoD) needs the ability to measure the dose rate throughout its range of operations.Standard radiation detection requirements for the military includes accurate gamma dose rate measures through the entire range of operations (from background to 100 Gy/hr), ability to maintain accuracy over a wide temperature range (-50 C to 55 C), and nuclear survivability [1].The standard gamma dose rate sensor is the Geiger-Müller tube (or G-M tube).The venerable G-M tube has been the standard dose rate sensor for nearly one hundred years [2].However, it is expensive for large-scale deployment (an average of $100 per tube), requires high voltage and counting circuitry, and requires several tubes to span the range of dose rates pertinent to military applications.The G-M tube certainly has characteristics beneficial for military applications to include somewhat inherently nuclear survivability, limited temperatures dependence, and very mature technology.In recent years, a number of radiation manufactures have started to use solid-state devices such a photodiodes for dose rate measurements.These detectors offer advantages in cost, size, and power consumption.However, tests have shown that these types of sensors struggle with nuclear survivable, an absolute most for this type of capability for the military.Temperature sensitivity and non-linearity over a wide dose range also affect many of the current solid-state sensors.DoD is concerned that this evolution of the technology for commercial radiation detectors from G-M tubes to the current solid-state devices continues maybe detrimental to the military’s ability to continue to field radiation detectors that are survivable on the nuclear battlefield.The DoD has decided to fund research to develop low-cost gamma dose rate sensors that are suitable for military operations, including fighting and surviving on the nuclear battlefield.The successful result of this SBIR topic would be a dose rate sensor that is: • Low-cost (preferably significantly under $100 per sensor), • Able to accurately deep absorbed dose rate, defined as the absorbed dose rate at a depth of 10 mm in International Commission on Radiation Units and Measurements (ICRU) tissue, • Accurate across the dose rate range pertinent for military operations (from background to 100 Gy/hr), • Able to maintain accuracy over a wide temperature range (-50 C to 55 C), • Nuclear survivable, • Very rugged, and • Very attractive to radiation manufactures for use in their radiation detectors for the commercial and medical sector.

PHASE I: Demonstrate through proof-of-concept experiments that the proposed sensor can measure the radiation dose rate, at least in a laboratory environment.Using the results of the proof-of-concept tests, conduct feasibility study to determine if the proposed sensor will meet the overall requirements for DOD and to predict better its expected performance.Plan for the continued development and testing of the proposed sensor.Update the cost estimation for the fielded system based on realistic material costs, testing requirements, and projected DoD needs.Phase I deliverables will include meetings (at vendor location or telecom) as needed, monthly reports, and a final report with the results from the tasks in the preceding paragraph.

PHASE II: Mature the propose sensor into a prototype system that meets the DoD needs as previously stated. Demonstrate accurate measurement of dose rate throughout the needed range on the prototype systems. Demonstrate and document the prototype sensor’s temperature dependence, nuclear survivable, and ruggedness.Further develop the manufacturing process to ensure quality and reproducibility, while keeping the cost of the final sensor low.Update the cost estimation for the fielded system.Phase II deliverables will include meetings (at vendor location or telecom) as needed, monthly reports, and a final report with the results from the tasks in the preceding paragraph.Additionally, the offeror will deliver three of the prototype systems to the government for further testing.

PHASE III: Refine and validate the sensor technology to ensure the technology meets the U.S. Army’s concept of operations (CONOPS) and meeting the end-user requirements to include ruggedness and environmental stability.Finalize manufacturing process to ensure a low-cost sensor.Transition the new sensor technology to both commercial and military radiation detectors.The end-state of the SBIR is a dose rate sensor that is: • Low-cost (preferably significantly under $100 per sensor), • Accurate across the dose rate range pertinent for military operations (from background to 100 Gy/hr), • Able to maintain accuracy over a wide temperature range (-50 C to 55 C), • Nuclear survivable, • Very rugged, and • Very attractive to radiation manufactures for use in their radiation detectors for the commercial and medical sector.PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: The production quantities of the DoD by itself is not enough to continue to sustain and further mature radiation sensor technologies.Therefore, the proposed sensor must be an attractive alternative for use in commercial radiation detectors.This technology has applications in multiple federal agencies and the private sector for identification of and protection from radiation hazards.

KEYWORDS: Radiation, Dose Rate, Nuclear Survivability, Geiger-Müller tube

References:

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