Date of Award

Summer 8-18-2017

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Engineering (ME)

Department

Physics

Advisor

Charles Hess

Second Committee Member

Sam Hess

Third Committee Member

Richard Sayles

Abstract

In the today’s climate of increased global terrorism, the threat of a radiological incident is becoming more realistic than ever, and as such, the necessity of early-warning detection is paramount to national security. To assist with this, the detection of uncharged particle emissions from radiological sources can be measured using Charged-Coupled Devices (CCDs) contained within everything from consumer cellphones to traffic cameras located at many intersections. Because the CCD is intrinsically sensitive to stimulation as a result of linear energy transfer by the incident particles, each event can be counted using video-image processing and an estimated energy band assessed by the saturation of the pixels. In an effort to make this process as applicable to the widest possible range of CCDs available, this experiment was conducted using low-quality CCDs contained within consumer-grade, budget web cameras. Incident uncharged particles were observed by camera models: Gigaware X76, Z76 and Logitech C170, C270 within a 239Pu-Be Neutron Howitzer, counted in post-event processing in MatLab and then an efficiency for each CCD was determined relative to both a theoretical flux model and a calibrated Helium-3 tube detector. The average, relative detection efficiencies for various radial lengths of the howitzer’s chamber for each of the web cameras were: 14.93%, 17.93%, 13.81% and 18.87% respectively. Devices were also capable of observing variations in neutron and gamma flux in accordance to the technical operating specifications of Borated Polyethylene neutron absorbers and theoretical flux of lead-shielded gamma rays. Conclusions from this experiment show that even the low-cost, consumer-grade CCDs are indeed functional in principle as reliable detectors of uncharged particles.

Comments

In the today’s climate of increased global terrorism, the threat of a radiological incident is becoming more realistic than ever, and as such, the necessity of early-warning detection is paramount to national security. To assist with this, the detection of uncharged particle emissions from radiological sources can be measured using Charged-Coupled Devices (CCDs) contained within everything from consumer cellphones to traffic cameras located at many intersections. Because the CCD is intrinsically sensitive to stimulation as a result of linear energy transfer by the incident particles, each event can be counted using video-image processing and an estimated energy band assessed by the saturation of the pixels. In an effort to make this process as applicable to the widest possible range of CCDs available, this experiment was conducted using low-quality CCDs contained within consumer-grade, budget web cameras. Incident uncharged particles were observed by camera models: Gigaware X76, Z76 and Logitech C170, C270 within a 239Pu-Be Neutron Howitzer, counted in post-event processing in MatLab and then an efficiency for each CCD was determined relative to both a theoretical flux model and a calibrated Helium-3 tube detector. The average, relative detection efficiencies for various radial lengths of the howitzer’s chamber for each of the web cameras were: 14.93%, 17.93%, 13.81% and 18.87% respectively. Devices were also capable of observing variations in neutron and gamma flux in accordance to the technical operating specifications of Borated Polyethylene neutron absorbers and theoretical flux of lead-shielded gamma rays. Conclusions from this experiment show that even the low-cost, consumer-grade CCDs are indeed functional in principle as reliable detectors of uncharged particles.

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