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Portal Detectors for Nuclear Materials


Development of Highly Effective Portal Radioactive Material Detectors

Tech Area / Field

  • INS-DET/Detection Devices/Instrumentation
  • FIR-NSS/Nuclear Safety and Safeguarding/Fission Reactors

8 Project completed

Registration date

Completion date

Senior Project Manager
Bunyatov K S

Leading Institute
NIIIT (Pulse Techniques), Russia, Moscow

Supporting institutes

  • Institute for High Energy Physics (IHEP), Russia, Moscow reg., Protvino


  • University of Athens, Greece, Athens

Project summary

The objective of this project is to develop portal detectors with increased sensitivity to radioactive materials.

It is well known that the portal monitors on the base of large size plastic scintillators are widely used to detect the presence of radioactive materials. The sensitivity of such detectors mainly depends on quantity of photomultiplier tubes (PMT) used for registration of scintillations. For increasing sensitivity in the frame of the standard approach it is necessary to increase quantity of PMT and to use additional electronic blocks. It results in increase of detector dimensions and the system cost.

There is an actual capability to increase sharply the efficiency of light receivers without increasing dimensions of the whole detector. The results obtained by the IHEP authors of our proposal during their work under the NJS300 project (Soros fund) open the path for creation of similar receivers. The essence of the approach is use of the special PMT with the cylindrical photocathode. Calculations been carried out in the project NJS300 show work ability of the photocathode placed on an internal surface of the glass cylinder a few centimeters in diameter and a few decimeters long with the necessary value of electric potential distributed along a photocathode. Combination of the similar photocathode chamber with the multiplier system of the usual small-sized PMT gives an actual capability to create the photomultiplier several times exceeding usual PMT by efficiency with preservation of detector overall dimensions. Increasing efficiency is achieved by essential increase of the photocathode area in comparison with the usual two-inch PMT. The preservation of overall dimensions will be realized due to arrangement of the photocathode chamber in a skew field of scintillator. The characteristics of the acting models of the similar photomultiplier have been studied, and analysis confirms a reality to create such devices.

To achieve the project objective it is necessary to:

· develop the special photomultiplier with the photocathode placed on an internal surface of a glass cylindrical chamber and dynode system from usual small-sized PMT and produce experimental samples of such PMT;
· develop, design and produce an experimental sample of the portal detector based on a scintillator and special PMT;
· research and test the experimental sample.

For realization of the project the competent scientific IHEP and RIPT personnel is attracted.

Institute for High Energy Physics has a huge experience in development, creation and research of various types wide aperture detectors using unique PMTs including ones of their own production. IHEP experts participating in the project have conducted the large activity, which results are in the base of our proposals. The brief list indicates the IHEP participants’ publications connected with a theme of the project:

· Matveyev S.V., Ryabov A.D., Ryabova T.D., Rykalin V.I. “Visualization for Modeling of Charged Particles Behavior Inside Electromagnetic Complex Fields”, Proceedings of “Visual Data Exploration and Analysis II” San Jose, SPIE vol. 2410, pp. 155-160, February 1995.;

· NJS000 project report (Soros fund);

· NJS300 project report (Soros fund).

Research Institute of pulse technique was involved during many years into development and production of special fast photomultipliers and accumulated a high scientific and technical potential for the solution of such problems. Besides, during the last years the RIPT authors of the project are directly engaged in production of portal monitors of their own development for the enterprises of the Russian Federation nuclear industry. The results of the RIPT expert’s activity in creation of monitoring instruments and systems are reflected in the reports at the international conferences of the last several years:

· International conference "CTBT monitoring technology. Role and place of national data centers in the international monitoring system." May 13-18, 1996, Moscow region, Istra;

· Russian international conference on nuclear material protection, control and accounting. A. I. Leypunsky RF-PEI, Obninsk, March 1997;

· US/Russian Workshop to Plan Transparency Technology Research Via LANL/VNIIEF Lab-to-Lab Contract. Los Alamos, USA, June 2-4, 1997.

Expected results:

Category of our project is development of technology. After project completion the following main results will be obtained:

· Experimental samples of the special photomultipliers;
· Experimental sample of the portal detector based on a scintillator and the special PMT;
· Research report with investigation results and recommendations for an industrial realization of this development;
· In case of successful design complete it is possible to organize production of highly sensitive portal detectors based on the special PMTs.

The designed highly sensitive portal detectors may be used in following areas of technologies:

· Nuclear Safety and Safeguarding (FIR-NSS);
· Monitoring and Instrumentation (ENV-MIN);
· Detection Devices (INS-DET).

The highly sensitive portal detectors have large perspectives of usage in the “Second Line of Defense”, at customs and factory checkpoints for preventing proliferation of nuclear materials.

A scientific and technical cooperation with the potential foreign collaborators suppose the project information interchange, coordination of specifications for developed instruments taking into account similar problems, participation in experiments and discussion of results. In the case of successful project completion the joint production of portal detectors with increased sensitivity based on the special PMTs is possible.

Realization of the project corresponds with ISTC aims to promote military science conversion and involve Russian scientists and experts in international scientific and technical community. The project during 1.5 years will engage about 15 specialists earlier taking part in development of instruments for nuclear weapon tests.

The project is directed to develop technologies in the area of Non-Proliferation Treaty, safeguarding nuclear materials and nuclear safety.

The project will promote solution of international technical problems to create highly effective detector systems.


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