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Evaluation of the Segmented Inverted Coaxial Germanium (SIGMA) Detector for In-Situ Gamma-Ray Spectroscopy and Imaging

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  • Full or part time
    Dr L Harkness-Brennan
    Prof R Page
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Applications are open for a four-year PhD studentship at the University of Liverpool to start September 2020. The position is funded through the GREEN EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Nuclear Energy. The first year of the programme aims to provide successful applicants with a broad knowledge of the nuclear fuel cycle, through week-long intensive modular teaching blocks. There will also be opportunities to attend industrial site visits and undertake training in transferable skills. The PhD project “Evaluation of the Segmented Inverted Coaxial Germanium (SIGMA) Detector for In-Situ Gamma-Ray Spectroscopy and Imaging” will then be undertaken between the second and fourth years.

The SIGMA detector has been designed to track gamma rays back to their point of origin in nuclear structure physics experiments, with unrivalled accuracy. This relies on precisely extracting gamma-ray interaction energies and positions from the detector and performing a kinematic reconstruction for each gamma-ray. A direct spin-off is in spectroscopic gamma-ray imaging for in-situ nuclear industry applications. In these scenarios, the location of the gamma-ray source is not usually known, and it may be masked by the presence of other contamination. Currently, a collimated detector is used to localise the direction of gamma-ray radiation with low sensitivity and long measuring times, which increases personnel exposure and the risk of misidentifying materials. Compton cameras show excellent promise in this field, although there is a compromise between performance and practicality (multiple, segmented semiconductor systems offer best performance but are least practical for an industrial setting). SIGMA would overcome these limitations, as it is a single detector with fewer than half the readout channels than other Compton cameras, whilst offering improved spectroscopy and imaging performance. A prototype SIGMA detector was delivered to the University of Liverpool in 2018. The objective of this GREEN studentship is to optimise and evaluate the performance of SIGMA when imaging gamma-ray sources typically present in industrial waste streams. This will involve developing novel algorithms to enhance the intrinsic position resolution of the detector and designing a suite of industry-relevant benchmarking experiments.

For queries relating to this specific PhD position, please contact Dr Laura Harkness-Brennan, [Email Address Removed].

The GREEN CDT is a consortium of the five universities of Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield. For further information about the GREEN CDT, please visit or contact [Email Address Removed]. For queries relating to this specific PhD position, please contact Dr Laura Harkness-Brennan, [Email Address Removed].

Funding Notes

Funding is available to UK and EU nationals resident in the UK for more than 3 years. Applicants must possess at least an upper second-class honours degree (or equivalent) in physics or a relevant subject from a UK university or possess an equivalent overseas degree. The application can be submitted through Please also send your CV through to the primary supervisor, Dr Laura Harkness-Brennan [Email Address Removed] and the GREEN CDT, [Email Address Removed], quoting the project title. Early applications are advised.

Please quote studentship reference PPPR001 in the funding section of the application form.


J. Wright, LJ Harkness-Brennan et al (2018) Position resolution simulations for the inverted coaxial germanium detector, SIGMA NIM A 892, p 84-92

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