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Small, portable and cheap radiation detector is being designed for the public


July 14, 2014

The handheld detector will tell its users what type of radionuclide is creating the radiation, and whether it poses a risk

The handheld detector will tell its users what type of radionuclide is creating the radiation, and whether it poses a risk

Ever since the Fukushima nuclear reactor disaster, there has understandably been an upsurge in the sale of consumer radiation-detecting devices. Most of these gadgets are variations on the Geiger counter, in that they alert the user to the presence and level of radiation, but not the type of radiation – which is very important to know. Researchers at Oregon State University are hoping to address that situation by developing a handheld device that will additionally tell its users what type of radionuclide is creating the radiation, and whether it poses a risk.

The device is actually a miniaturized gamma ray spectrometer, and is claimed to combine digital electronics with a new type of "scintillation detector." The latter typically combines an electronic light sensor with a scintillator, which is a material that luminesces when exposed to radiation.

The inclusion of the scintillation detector also allows for the device to be small, durable, lightweight, energy-efficient, and to be able to operate at room temperature.

Several models are planned, including one for use around the home. It could be used to check for and analyze radiation emanating from things like soil, granite countertops and concrete walls. The device will also be able to transmit data wirelessly, allowing users to set one of the devices in a given location and then monitor it via the internet.

"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," said associate professor of nuclear engineering, Abi Farsoni. "This technology will accomplish both those goals."

Once commercialized, it is hoped that the device will sell for under US$150.

Additionally, because the smaller-than-a-golf-ball sized system is said to actually be more accurate and efficient than many professional-grade gamma ray spectrometers, the technology may also find its way into big-league applications such as scientific research, medicine, and emergency response.

A paper on the research was recently published in the journal Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research.

Source: Oregon State University

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

So when can i send you my money????? Ps. I would also like the unit to measure atmospheric (Solar) radiation.....you will be amazed by what you will find!!!!!!!!

I am using a weather station here in South Africa (Vantage Pro Plus) and last summer recorded extremely high Solar Radiation......at night!!!!!!

Had the unit checked ...and it was and still is working perfectly.....sooooo can anybody out there explain to me why I was get so high (25 to 32) values as late as 1 am the following morning regarding Solar Radiation..???? just thought I'd ask.

Can't wait to get my hands on the gadget!!!!


What do the "Researchers at Oregon State University" know that the rest of us don't?

Mel Tisdale

ASHDIL - You are probably recording the residue of solar flares. Those are particles and travel a good deal slower than light (wavicles). The fastest range from 300 MPH to 750 MPH and that ain't that fast.


We need a little more info on this one. What is the range? How does it differentiate between types of radiation? Does it give the actual intensity or cumulative dosage? Is it directional? Does it just chirp or does it have some sort of display? Something sensitive enough to get a reading on a granite counter top will no doubt raise some undo concern. Better hope there is no zircon sand around.


I hope that this Geiger counter / radiation tester is sturdy and accurate because many people will benefit from them! As TEPCO the Fukushima nuclear power company continues to dump millions of gallons of radioactive waste into the Pacific Ocean each and every day, the chances that people on the west coast of the USA and Canada will become sick from eating radiated poisoned fish and seafood increases! As time goes by more poisoned fish will make their way across the Pacific through migration and ocean currents. Anyone eating fish and seafood from the Pacific Ocean should think about doing a radiation detox with the natural mineral called Zeolite that has been proven to safely remove both radiation and heavy metals from the human body!

Barry Cohen

HighPockets, Thanks for taking the time to enlighten. Appreciated!!!

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