Due to the short path length of alpha particles in air, a detector that can be used at a distance from any potential radiological contamination reduces the time and hazard that traditional alpha detection methods incur. This would reduce costs and protect personnel in nuclear power generation and decommissioning activities, where alpha detection is crucial to full characterisation and contamination detection. Stand-off alpha detection could potentially be achieved by the detection of alpha-induced radioluminescence, especially in the ultraviolet C (UVC) wavelength range (180–280 nm) where natural and artificial background lighting is less likely to interfere with detection. However, such a detector would also have to be effective in the field, potentially in the presence of other radiation sources that could mask the UVC signal. This work exposed a UVC sensor, the UVTRON (Hamamatsu, Japan) and associated electronics (driver circuit, microprocessor) to sources of beta and gamma radiation in order to assess its response to both of these types of radiation, as may be found in the field where a mixed radiation environment is likely. It has been found that the UVTRON is affected by both gamma and beta radiation of a magnitude that would mask any UVC signal being detected. 152
Eu generated 0.01 pulses per second per Bq through beta and gamma interactions, compared to 210
Po, which generates 4.72 × 10−8
cps per Bq from UVC radioluminescence, at 20 mm separation. This work showed that UVTRON itself is more susceptible to this radiation than the associated electronics. The results of this work have implications for the use of the UVTRON as a sensor in a stand-off detection system, highlighting the necessity for shielding from both potential gamma and beta radiation in any detector design.
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