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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle

Smartphone and Tablet-Based Sensing of Environmental Radioactivity: Mobile Low-Cost Measurements for Monitoring, Citizen Science, and Educational Purposes

1
CERN, Esplanade des Particules 1, 1217 Meyrin, Switzerland
2
Section de Physique and Institut Universitaire de Formation des Enseignants (IUFE), Université de Genève, 1211 Genève, Switzerland
3
Département de Physique Nucléaire et Corpusculaire (DPNC), Université de Genève, 1211 Genève, Switzerland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sensors 2019, 19(19), 4264; https://doi.org/10.3390/s19194264
Received: 7 August 2019 / Revised: 25 September 2019 / Accepted: 25 September 2019 / Published: 1 October 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Smartphone-Based Biosensing)
Sensors for environmental radioactivity based on two novel setups using photodiodes, on the one hand, and an advanced tablet-based hybrid pixel detector, on the other hand, are presented. Measurements of four kinds of terrestrial and every-day radiation sources are carried out: Airborne radon, a mineral containing traces of uranium, edible potassium salt, and an old radium watch. These measurements permit comparisons between different types of ambient radioactive sources and enable environmental monitoring. Available data comprise discrimination between α - and β -particles in an energy range of 33 keV to 8 MeV and under ambient air conditions. The diode-based sensor is particularly useful in portable applications since it is small and sturdy with little power consumption. It can be directly connected to a smartphone via the headset socket. For its development, the low-cost silicon positive-intrinsic-negative (PIN) diodes BPX61 and BPW34 have been characterised with capacitance versus voltage (C-V) curves. Physical detection limits for ionising radiation are discussed based on obtained depletion layer width: ( 50 ± 8 ) μ m at 8 V. The mobile and low-cost character of these sensors, as alternatives to Geiger counters or other advanced equipment, allows for a widespread use by individuals and citizen science groups for environmental and health protection purposes, or in educational settings. Source code and hardware design files are released under open source licenses with this publication. View Full-Text
Keywords: natural radioactivity; radon; terrestrial radiation; silicon sensor; hybrid pixel detector; formal and informal learning; citizen science; learning tool; open educational resource; low-cost natural radioactivity; radon; terrestrial radiation; silicon sensor; hybrid pixel detector; formal and informal learning; citizen science; learning tool; open educational resource; low-cost
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Keller, O.; Benoit, M.; Müller, A.; Schmeling, S. Smartphone and Tablet-Based Sensing of Environmental Radioactivity: Mobile Low-Cost Measurements for Monitoring, Citizen Science, and Educational Purposes. Sensors 2019, 19, 4264.

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1
  • Externally hosted supplementary file 1
    Doi: 10.5281/zenodo.3361755
    Link: https://github.com/ozel/DIY_particle_detector
    Description: Hardware design files, software sources, reference measurement data and detailed usage instructions.
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