Drone-borne gamma ray sensors
In a CBRN attack, our defence forces must be able to accurately assess a battle space for radiation and other toxic substances.
Prof Nigel Spooner is leading a team at the Prescott Environmental Luminescence Laboratory (PELL) developing a radiation field intensity sensor which can be mounted on to a defence drone. This sensor will be capable of being flown over contentious spaces where there may be nuclear activity to detect whether radiation is present and if so, the strength and exact location of the source.
Nigel explains "Using cost-effective, robust materials, the drone-borne sensor will be able to detect radiation in all terrains and subtract naturally occurring background radiation, providing operators with a highly accurate analysis of the landscape. We use robust plastics rather than crystals as are used currently, so if the platform is damaged during operations the sensor can be recovered and used again."
"Understanding the level of radiation present and where the source is situated allows our forces to make better informed decisions on whether to move into an area, and whether it is safe to move civilians out through the area. The next steps in our research are continuing to refine the geometry of the sensor so the shape offers the most accurate detection efficiency possible and looking at other potential materials to increase usability."
This technology also has implications for routine monitoring, detecting leaks at industrial sites and mines, and for emergency management personnel dealing with potential radiation-related incidents.