By Philips Gary W., Nagel David J., Coffey Timothy

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Both in semiconductor and scintillation detectors, the electrical signal is proportional to the energy deposited in the detector. By the use of specialized nuclear electronics, this signal is amplified and shaped into a short pulse whose height is proportional to the original signal strength. Pulse height converters digitize the signal, which is then sent to a computer and used to construct an energy spectrum that can be displayed on a monitor. Gamma-ray detector electronics are described in greater detail in Section 7.

0 MeV are the result of the decay of induced fission products. These are highly penetrating, and occur at energies where the interference from natural background is low. Large detector arrays can be used to locate the source inside a cargo container [Slaughter, 2003]. A similar device is being developed using interrogation by high-energy photons from a linear accelerator [Jones, 2003]. Another pulsed-neutron interrogation device under investigation uses delayed epithermal (eV energy) induced neutrons to detect shielded nuclear materials [Melton, 2003].

Detectors under development combine a neutron capture material with a semiconductor detector for compact and efficient neutron detection. Protection against nuclear and radiological weapons requires a suite of detectors including active interrogation for cargo containers, stationary active or passive detectors for scanning smaller containers, large gamma-ray and neutron detectors at ports of entry, and handheld detectors for inspecting suspicious packages. Small gamma-ray monitors in heavily populated areas could provide valuable warning of a radiological attack, giving time to evacuate the area before significant doses are acquired.

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