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High-Sensitivity Compton Imaging with Position-
Sensitive Si and Ge Detectors
K. Vetter , M. Burks', C. Cork', M. Cunningham', D. Chivers', E. Hull', T. Krings2, H.
Manini1, L. Mihailescu, K. Nelson1, D. Protic2, J. Valentine, and D. Wright
'Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore CA 94550, USA
2 Institute fur Kernphysik, Forschungszentrum Julich, 52425 Julich, Germany
We report on the development of high-sensitivity and compact Compton imaging systems built of large and
position-sensitive Si(Li) and HPGe detectors. The primary goal of this effort is to provide improved
capabilities in the passive detection of nuclear materials for homeland security. Our detectors are
implemented in double-sided strip configuration which - along with digital signal processing - provides
energies and three-dimensional position information of individual gamma-ray interactions. Gamma-ray
tracking algorithms are then determining the scattering sequence of the gamma ray which in turn allows us
- employing the Compton scattering formula - to reconstruct a cone of possible incident angles and
ultimately an image. This Compton imaging concept enables large-field-of-view gamma-ray imaging
without the use of a heavy collimator or aperture. The intrinsically high energy resolution of the detectors
used, the excellent position resolution we have demonstrated, both combined with the high efficiency of
large-volume detectors is the basis for high Compton imaging sensitivity. These capabilities are being
developed to identify and localize potential threat sources and to potentially increase the sensitivity in
detecting weak sources out of the midst of natural, medical, or commercial sources. Gamma-ray imaging
provides a new degree of freedom to distinguish between spatial and temporal background fluctuations and
compact threat sources.
Gamma-ray imaging is an established
tool in biomedical applications, nuclear
medicine, and astrophysics. More
recently however, the impact of gamma-
ray imaging for homeland security
applications has been recognized as well
[1,2]. Here, the goal is to provide
improved capabilities to detect, localize,
and characterize nuclear materials by
passive means without compromising
the environment. One of the outstanding
challenges in homeland security is the
detection and identification of potential
nuclear and radiological threats in the
midst of a sea of non-threat objects,
which consists of legitimate radioactive
objects commonly found in commerce
and environment. Current passive
radiation detection technologies lack in
sensitivity and specificity in uniquely
detecting, identifying, and localizing
radioactive sources of interest. This
deficiency is multiplied in wide-area
surveillance applications in which weak
threat sources have to be distinguished
from spatial and temporal background
fluctuations and in the midst of
legitimate radioactive sources.
We are developing highly sensitive
Compton imaging system to address
these challenges by providing a
potentially compact instrument with
excellent energy resolution, good
imaging performance and large field-of-
view. More specifically, we are
developing Compton imaging systems
which are built of large-volume and
high-resolution Si(Li) and HPGe
detectors. These detectors have
intrinsically good energy resolution and
are built in double-sided strip
configurations, which - along with
digital signal processing - provides
excellent three-dimensional position
resolution. These fundamental
characteristics allow us to measure
individual gamma-ray interactions and to
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Vetter, K; Burks, M; Cork, C; Cunningham, M; Chivers, D; Hull, E et al. High-Sensitivity Compton Imaging with Position-Sensitive Si and Ge Detectors, article, May 19, 2006; Livermore, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc834424/m1/3/: accessed January 21, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.