In this work, a robust stand-off alpha detection method using the secondary effects of alpha radiation has been sought. Alpha particles ionise the surrounding atmosphere as they travel. Fluorescence photons produced as a consequence of this can be used to detect the source
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In this work, a robust stand-off alpha detection method using the secondary effects of alpha radiation has been sought. Alpha particles ionise the surrounding atmosphere as they travel. Fluorescence photons produced as a consequence of this can be used to detect the source of the alpha emissions. This paper details experiments carried out to detect this fluorescence, with the focus on photons in the ultraviolet C (UVC) wavelength range (180–280 nm). A detector, UVTron R9533 (Hamamatsu, 325-6, Sunayama-cho, Naka-ku, Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka Pref., 430-8587, Japan), designed to detect the UVC emissions from flames for fire alarm purposes, was tested in various gas atmospheres with a 210
Po alpha source to determine if this could provide an avenue for stand-off alpha detection. The results of the experiments show that this detector is capable of detecting alpha-induced air fluorescence in normal indoor lighting conditions, as the interference from daylight and artificial lighting is less influential on this detection system which operates below the UVA and UVB wavelength ranges (280–315 nm and 315–380 nm respectively). Assuming a standard
drop off in signal, the limit of detection in this configuration can be calculated to be approximately 240 mm, well beyond the range of alpha-particles in air, which indicates that this approach could have potential for stand-off alpha detection. The gas atmospheres tested produced an increase in the detector count, with xenon having the greatest effect with a measured 52% increase in the detector response in comparison to the detector response in an air atmosphere. This type of alpha detection system could be operated at a distance, where it would potentially provide a more cost effective, safer, and faster solution in comparison with traditional alpha detection methods to detect and characterise alpha contamination in nuclear decommissioning and security applications.