Invention of Cerium Bromide Scintillation Crystals for Radiation Detection

Cerium bromide scintillation crystals provide high resolution gamma-ray detection with almost zero background noise

Preventing the proliferation of dangerous nuclear materials is crucial in maintaining the safety and security of the country. To accomplish this radiation detection instruments such as personal radiation detectors (PRDs), spectroscopic personal radiation detectors (SPRDs) and radiation isotope identification devices (RIIDs) are used by police, fire departments, hazardous materials teams, customs inspectors, border patrol agents, and the U.S. Coast Guard to detect the presence of radioactive materials. Most importantly is the detection of  special nuclear materials (SNMs), such as weapon-grade plutonium and highly enriched uranium, which can be done by their characteristic gamma-ray radiation signatures.

Finding a better solution than LaBrfor gamma ray detection

Until recently, Lanthanum Bromide (LaBr3) has been the standard for high end gamma-ray spectroscopy using inorganic scintillator crystals. It provides first responders the ability to not only detect the presence of a nuclear source, but to identify the specific SNM. Unfortunately, LaBr3 has one drawback, the crystal itself is radioactive. The radioactive isotope 138La emits conversion electrons and ß-particles with energies up to 1.7 MeV, with an intrinsic count rate of approximately 1.5 events per cm3 per second. This causes background noise that lowers the overall sensitivity for low event rates, which is commonly the case when trying to detect SNMs. To eliminate this problem, U.S. government agencies funded RMD to develop a new material that has all of the positive qualities of LaBr3 without the background noise.

RMD invents CeBr3

Similar to LaBr3, CeBr3 possesses many desirable properties such as high light yield, fast response, and high density. Energy resolution for CeBr3 is also exemplary. The key advantage of CeBr3 is the very little intrinsic background noise (more than 20 times lower than LaBr3).  The ultra-fast response without any slow component is also a major advantage.

RMD Cerium Bromide Radiation Graph

RMD successfully licenses CeBr3

RMD has licensed our patent on a worldwide basis to Hellma Materials. Hellma has perfected the manufacturing process for CeBr3, producing scintillators that meet the highest industry standards for quality and price. They are currently shipping 1, 2 and 3 inch CeBr3 detectors and are marketing them for nuclear nonproliferation, medical imaging systems, and oil well logging. Additionally, Berkeley Nucleonics Corporation (BNC) has chosen CeBr3 for use in their SAM 940 and 945 SAM II Isotope Identification systems.



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