Comparison of LaBr3:Ce and NaI(Tl) Scintillators for Radio-Isotope Identification Devices

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Lanthanum halide (LaBr3:Ce) scintillators offer significantly better resolution (<3 percent at 662 kilo-electron volt [keV]) relative to sodium iodide (NaI(Tl)) and have recently become commercially available in sizes large enough for the hand-held radio-isotope identification device (RIID) market. There are drawbacks to lanthanum halide detectors, however. These include internal radioactivity that contributes to spectral counts and a low-energy response that can cause detector resolution to be lower than that of NaI(Tl) below 100 keV. To study the potential of this new material for RIIDs, we performed a series of measurements comparing a 1.5?1.5 inch LaBr?3:Ce detector with an Exploranium GR ... continued below

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Milbrath, Brian D.; Choate, Bethany J.; Fast, Jim E.; Hensley, Walter K.; Kouzes, Richard T. & Schweppe, John E. July 31, 2006.

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Lanthanum halide (LaBr3:Ce) scintillators offer significantly better resolution (<3 percent at 662 kilo-electron volt [keV]) relative to sodium iodide (NaI(Tl)) and have recently become commercially available in sizes large enough for the hand-held radio-isotope identification device (RIID) market. There are drawbacks to lanthanum halide detectors, however. These include internal radioactivity that contributes to spectral counts and a low-energy response that can cause detector resolution to be lower than that of NaI(Tl) below 100 keV. To study the potential of this new material for RIIDs, we performed a series of measurements comparing a 1.5?1.5 inch LaBr?3:Ce detector with an Exploranium GR 135 RIID, which contains a 1.5-2.2 inch NaI(Tl) detector. Measurements were taken for short time frames, as typifies RIID usage. Measurements included examples of naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM), typically found in cargo, and special nuclear materials. Some measurements were noncontact, involving short distances or cargo shielding scenarios. To facilitate direct comparison, spectra from the different detectors were analyzed with the same isotope identification software (ORTEC ScintiVision TM). In general, the LaBr3:Ce detector was able to find more peaks and find them faster than the NaI(Tl) detector. To the same level of significance, the LaBr3:Ce detector was usually two to three times faster. The notable exception was for 40K containing NORM where interfering internal contamination in the LaBr3:Ce detector exist. NaI(Tl) consistently outperformed LaBr3:Ce for this important isotope. LaBr3:Ce currently costs much more than NaI(Tl), though this cost-difference is expected to diminish (but not completely) with time. As is true of all detectors, LaBr3:Ce will need to be gain-stabilized for RIID applications. This could possibly be done using the internal contaminants themselves. It is the experience of the authors that peak finding software in RIIDs needs to be improved, regardless of the detector material.

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  • Report No.: PNNL-15831
  • Grant Number: AC05-76RL01830
  • DOI: 10.2172/894484 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 894484
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc881922

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  • July 31, 2006

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  • Sept. 22, 2016, 2:13 a.m.

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  • Dec. 2, 2016, 10:23 p.m.

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Milbrath, Brian D.; Choate, Bethany J.; Fast, Jim E.; Hensley, Walter K.; Kouzes, Richard T. & Schweppe, John E. Comparison of LaBr3:Ce and NaI(Tl) Scintillators for Radio-Isotope Identification Devices, report, July 31, 2006; Richland, Washington. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc881922/: accessed December 10, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.