ANSTO develops new gamma-ray radiation imaging technology

Two hotspots on the generated Cobalt-60 gamma ray image from within the HIFAR reactor chamber. Source: ANSTO

A new imaging technology developed at Australia’s Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) makes it possible to image, identify and locate gamma-ray radiation remotely – therefore reducing the risk of radiation exposure to workers.

Gamma radiation measurement is required in various industrial settings where there is radiation, such as nuclear reactors, nuclear medicine facilities and high energy physics laboratories. Some of the more challenging aspects of dealing with radiation are that you can’t see it directly and it can lead to radiation exposure when trying to measure it. 

The technology combines spectroscopic gamma ray images with a 360° by 90° panoramic optical image to enable the fast and accurate identification of gamma emitting radionuclides and pinpoint their location. 

“It allows you to determine the identity of gamma emitting radiation and where it is,” said physicist Dr David Boardman, who is leading the Nuclear Stewardship team that has developed an application-specific system for imaging within the High Flux Australian Reactor (HIFAR) reactor vessel and a portable imaging system for lower dose rate environments.

The developed imaging technology combines all the differing positive attributes found in existing commercial imaging systems, which include: a large field of view, wide energy range, speed, cost-effectiveness, configurability and adherence to ALARA (as low as reasonable achievable) in radiation environments.

An advanced prototype of the portable system has been tested in various locations around ANSTO, where it is proving to be very effective in localising sources of radiation. 

“Because of the 360° horizontal and 90° vertical field of view, you can scan most of a room in one acquisition” said Boardman.

All research relating to the research and development was carried out at ANSTO, which has filed two patents on the IP of the technology. The team is currently preparing research papers for publication.