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Stand-Off Radioluminescence Mapping of Alpha Emitters under Bright Lighting

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1777-1783
Number of pages7
JournalIEEE Transactions on Nuclear Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


Remote detection of alpha emitters is achieved by measuring the secondary radioluminescence light (air fluorescence) that is induced by alpha particles when absorbed in air. A telescope was used to collect the radioluminescence photons to a photomultiplier tube, which is operated in the photon counting mode. Careful matching of photocathode response and filter pass-band allows the sensing of a faint radioluminescence emission in a brightly illuminated environment, which is essential for operative use. A minimum detectable alpha activity of 4 kBq was reached at 1 m distance in 10 s time, when ultraviolet-free lighting is present, and 800 kBq under bright fluorescent lighting. These sensitivities are realized using an ultra-bialkali and cesium-telluride photocathodes in the aforementioned environments respectively. The presented approach is a robust and affordable solution to remotely detect and localize moderate alpha activities in a field environment, providing a means for automated alpha contamination mapping. Moreover, it is shown that a signal increase of more than two orders of magnitude (150-420) can be achieved in deep ultraviolet (close to 260 nm), if nitrogen or argon purge are used to enhance the detection.


  • air fluorescence, alpha particle detectors, optical devices, radioluminescence

Publication forum classification

Field of science, Statistics Finland