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Proceedings Paper

Radiation detection and wireless networked early warning
Author(s): David A. Burns; Marc S. Litz; James J. Carroll; Dimosthenis Katsis
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Paper Abstract

We have designed a compact, wireless, GPS-enabled array of inexpensive radiation sensors based on scintillation counting. Each sensor has a scintillator, photomultiplier tube, and pulse-counting circuit that includes a comparator, digital potentiometer and microcontroller. This design provides a high level of sensitivity and reliability. A 0.2 m2 PV panel powers each sensor providing a maintenance-free 24/7 energy source. The sensor can be mounted within a roadway light-post and monitor radiological activity along transport routes. Each sensor wirelessly transmits real-time data (as counts per second) up to 2 miles with a XBee radio module, and the data is received by a XBee receive-module on a computer. Data collection software logs the information from all sensors and provides real-time identification of radiation events. Measurements performed to-date demonstrate the ability of a sensor to detect a 20 μCi source at 3.5 meters when packaged with a PVT (plastic) scintillator, and 7 meters for a sensor with a CsI crystal (more expensive but ~5 times more sensitive). It is calculated that the sensor-architecture can detect sources moving as fast as 130 km/h based on the current data rate and statistical bounds of 3-sigma threshold detection. The sensor array is suitable for identifying and tracking a radiation threat from a dirty bomb along roadways.

Paper Details

Date Published: 24 May 2012
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 8388, Unattended Ground, Sea, and Air Sensor Technologies and Applications XIV, 83880J (24 May 2012); doi: 10.1117/12.918590
Show Author Affiliations
David A. Burns, U.S. Army Research Lab. (United States)
Marc S. Litz, U.S. Army Research Lab. (United States)
James J. Carroll, U.S. Army Research Lab. (United States)
Dimosthenis Katsis, Athena Energy Corp. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 8388:
Unattended Ground, Sea, and Air Sensor Technologies and Applications XIV
Edward M. Carapezza, Editor(s)

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