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Novel Radiation Detector Wins R&D 100 Award

Ralph James, left, and Alexsey Bolotnikov

Ralph James, left, and Alexsey Bolotnikov of the Lab's Radiation Detector and Nonprliferation R&D Group, examine the components of GammaScout.

Brookhaven Lab recently won an R&D 100 Award for GammaScout, a compact system that provides detailed spectroscopic and imaging information about the presence and distribution of x-ray and gamma-ray radiation in a sample or area. R&D Magazine gives R&D 100 Awards annually to the top 100 technological achievements of the year. Typically, these are innovations that transform basic science into useful products. 

"These awards recognize the tremendous value of our National Labs," said Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz. "Research and development at the National Labs continues to help our nation address its energy challenges and pursue the scientific and technological innovations necessary to remain globally competitive."

GammaScout is a compact, high position-resolution cadmium-zinc-telluride (CZT) radiation detector that is coupled with novel low-noise pulse processing electronics and high-performance image acquisition software. The compact, handheld unit identifies the elemental composition of materials based on their x-ray fluorescence. Potential applications for GammaScout include tracking the movement of radioactive materials and imaging radiopharmaceuticals in oncology and cardiology settings.

The principal advantage of CZT detectors is that they offer high-resolution spectroscopic data at room temperature.  Previously, instruments for detecting and imaging gamma-rays and hard x-rays were largely confined to laboratory environments because they use germanium detectors that must be cryogenically cooled for operation. 

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