First results of using a UVTron flame sensor to detect alpha-induced air fluorescence in the UVC wavelength range

Crompton, A. J., Gamage, K. A.A. , Bell, S., Wilson, A. P., Jenkins, A. and Trivedi, D. (2017) First results of using a UVTron flame sensor to detect alpha-induced air fluorescence in the UVC wavelength range. Sensors, 17(12), 2756. (doi: 10.3390/s17122756) (PMID:29186051)

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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 210Po 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 1 r 2 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.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:The authors would like to acknowledge the funding support from Sellafield Ltd. and the Nuclear Security Science Network (NuSec) to carry out these experiments, and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.
Keywords:UVTron flame detectors, alpha detection, alpha imaging, alpha-induced air fluorescence, nuclear decontamination and decommissioning.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Gamage, Professor Kelum
Authors: Crompton, A. J., Gamage, K. A.A., Bell, S., Wilson, A. P., Jenkins, A., and Trivedi, D.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering
Journal Name:Sensors
ISSN (Online):1424-8220
Published Online:29 November 2017
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 The Authors
First Published:First published in Sensors 17(12): 2756
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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