Now, an affordable radiation detector

New York, Researchers have developed a radiation detecting device that can scan radiation levels in their living environment and is smaller than a golf ball, portable and inexpensive.

Following the nuclear incident in Fukushima, Japan, in 2011, when many residents were unsure what level of radiation they were being exposed to and whether their homes, food, environment and drinking water were safe, the demand for an affordable nuclear detector got momentum.

The void can now soon be filled as researchers have developed the radiation detector called 'MiniSpec'.

"With a device such as this, people will be better able to understand and examine the environment in which they live," said Abi Farsoni, an associate professor of nuclear engineering at Oregon State University in the US.

"Radiation is a natural part of our lives that many people don't understand, but in some cases there's also a need to measure it accurately in case something could be a health concern. This technology will accomplish both those goals," Farsoni noted.

The system is a miniaturised gamma ray spectrometer, which means it can measure not only the intensity of radiation but also identify the type of radionuclide that is creating it.

The system combines digital electronics with a fairly new type of "scintillation detector" that gives it the virtues of small size, durability, operation at room temperature, good energy resolution, low power consumption and light weight, while being able to measure radiation levels and identify the radionuclides producing them.

Not yet available for commercial sale, the new system should eventually be available for less than $150, researchers said.

The MiniSpec will ultimately be commercialised after final development is completed, researchers said.

The findings appeared in the journal Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research.

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