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Nuclear Safeguards Education Portal
  

Introduction: What do we use detectors for?

LaBr probe being used with Canberra's Inspector-1000 for portable isotope identification and quantification
LaBr probe being used with Canberra's Inspector-1000 for portable isotope identification and quantification 

Radiation detectors are an integral part of many safeguards systems. In general, we use radiation detectors for all of the following:

  1. Detection: determining if radiation and/or radioactive material is present.
    An example of this would be survey meters or portal monitors Photo available on Mouseover.
  2. Identification: determining what isotopes are generating the radiation that is present.
    An example of this would be most handheld isotope identifiers Photo available on Mouseover.
  3. Quantification: determining the amount of each isotope present.
    An example of this would be nuclear material accountancy measurements.

Each of these levels gets progressively more difficult to accurately achieve. We will consider each of these levels of measurement in this module, but for safeguards purposes we are most interested in being able to do quantification. In the case of nuclear materials, we must use the unique properties of these materials to allow us to detect, identify, and quantify the materials. The nuclear materials of primary interest to us are uranium (U) and plutonium (Pu). We are also interested in americium (Am), curium (Cm), neptunium (Np), and californium (Cf).

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