Detecting Radiation: A Comprehensive Guide

Radiation detection is a complex process that requires the use of specialized instruments. The most common type of radiation detector is a Geiger-Mueller (GM) tube, also known as a Geiger counter. While this is one of the most popular types of radiation detectors, it is important to note that the phrase “Geiger counter” is not always the most appropriate. It applies to a very specific type of detector and application.

In general, radiation detectors are classified by the type of detector element employed or by the application involved. People may refer to them as an ion chamber, a probing meter, a pollution meter, or a Frisker probe. An RIID (Radiation Isotope Identification Device) is a radiation detector with the ability to analyze the energy spectrum of radiation and identify the specific radioactive material (radionuclide) emitting radiation. A topographic meter is a portable radiation detector that typically measures the amount of radiation present and displays this information in units of counts per minute, counts per second, or microroentgen (µR) or microrem (µrem) per hour.

Alpha radiation cannot be detected because it is blocked by the mobile phone case, lens and cover. However, advanced image sensors installed in smartphones can detect ionizing radiation in addition to visible light. Although they are designed to detect visible light, they can also detect the higher energies of ionizing radiation. The advantage of using a smartphone app in radiation detection is that it is cheap, easy to operate and accessible, since many people have smartphones.

When talking about radiation detection instruments, there are three types of detectors that are most often used: Geiger-Mueller (GM) tubes, scintillation detectors and teletectors. GM tubes are used to measure gamma and X-ray radiation. Scintillation detectors measure gamma and X-ray radiation as well as neutron radiation. Teletectors are specifically designed to detect gamma and X-ray radiation.

The response of an ionizing radiation detector should not depend on the angle of impact of the radiation. Smartphone applications can be used to detect harmful radiation such as gamma rays, replacing traditional detectors at a fraction of the cost. This work aims to inform a detailed investigation of a well-reviewed smartphone application for radiation dosimetry that is available for popular smartphone devices under a calibration protocol that is typically used for commercial calibration of radiation detectors.This error analysis quantitatively shows that the RadioActivityCounter application can effectively function as a radiation detector at high radiation doses; however, at low doses, the application returns a high error percentage.

Isaac Delpozo
Isaac Delpozo

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