An all-optical, fiber-optic-coupled remote radiation sensor was developed using luminescent, copper-doped quartz material. The key to the technology is the doped quartz material, which produces a luminescence signal that is directly proportional to the radiation dose.

Individual sensors have an estimated cost of $50 and a lifespan of decades. The sensor is less than 7 mm in diameter by 10 cm in length, and is fiber-optic-coupled to a photodetector that is remotely located away from the potential radiation source. The small, flexible sensor can detect low levels of radiation in underground pipes or boreholes.

The sensor's ability to withstand exposure to moisture, high temperatures, and corrosive conditions allows for extended operation in multiple mediums. Durability is important for monitoring low levels of radiation accumulated by the sensor over a time span of interest. The sensor can also provide in-situ, near-real-time data, reducing manpower requirements with no off-site data processing required. The sensor is sensitive to all types of radiation, including tritium and alpha particles. The fiber-optic-coupled radiation sensors can be configured with hundreds of sensors connected to one readout unit.

The fiber-optic radiation monitor can identify dangers to the environment, property, and critical plant coolant systems, and is easily manufactured in large quantities. Additionally, it is economical enough to be disposable, durable enough to be re-used, and is environmentally and biologically friendly. Applications for the fiber-optic environmental radiation dosimeter include energy sites and surrounding areas, radioactive material storage sites, and groundwater or soil monitoring.

For more information, visit the NRL Technology Transfer Office at here .


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This article first appeared in the October, 2017 issue of Tech Briefs Magazine.

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