The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) is exploring new technologies for Spectroscopic Personal Radiation Detectors (SPRD) that can better detect, identify, and locate radiological or nuclear sources. Technologies developed through this effort may be integrated into new hand-held devices for use in daily operations by DHS components (e.g., U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Transportation Security Administration), and state and local law enforcement agencies. DNDO has demonstrated the functionality of new SPRDs with advanced materials and capabilities, including packaging, electronics, and algorithms.
The SPRD (see Figure 1) is a handheld device that can detect, identify, and locate a radiological or nuclear source. Detection is conducted with two new, advanced scintillating materials. The first is cesium lithium yttrium chloride, one of a class of elpasolite materials developed for simultaneous detection of gamma-rays and neutrons. The other is strontium iodide.
Compared to sodium iodide, which is used in many existing detectors, both materials offer superior energy resolution and therefore more detailed spectra, to better identify specific sources. This is particularly important because it will enable faster and better adjudication of possible detections. Lastly, these SPRDs coupled with new software, provides an advanced functionality that enables users to identify the direction of sources.
These units were extensively characterized in a series of tests during the Spring and Summer of 2013. This data is being analyzed to enhance understanding of the performance capabilities and limits of these systems, and to enable an assessment of the technological maturity of the components and the devices. Additionally, DNDO is working with DHS components, state and local law enforcement, and other stakeholders to identify how the new SPRD technology and functionalities could be used to better support their missions, and to identify additional modifications that will further enhance system performance and utility.