This project offers an exciting opportunity to work at the interface between physics and engineering, and gain experience in industry.
Traditionally, Geiger counters are used as radiation detectors; however, they are limited by their inability to determine the energy of the radiation they measure. This project involves development of a new miniature radioactivity detector, a “microscintillator” which is similar to a Geiger counter, but with the added benefit that it can measure the energy of the radioactive particle. The device is able to measure count rates, analogous to a Geiger counter, but can also differentiate between the different energies of incoming particles. It is also small and low-power enough for use in airborne applications; we believe it is the smallest and cheapest detector of its type available. It has already been trialled on high-altitude balloons and uncrewed airborne vehicles (UAVs), and units are being sold to researchers around the world.
The goal of this project is to carry out technical development of the instrument, such as discrimination of different particle types through simple pulse shape identification, and optimization of the detector and measurement system. The student will also use both physics and engineering software to model the device’s response and better understand and characterize its measurements in the atmosphere or in space.
The project involves a collaboration with Dr Alec Bennett at Biral, a leading developer and manufacturer of meteorological technology, to investigate commercialization of the instrument for the environmental science market. Most of the project will be based at Bristol University, but some time (by arrangement) will also be spent working at Biral’s research and manufacturing facility at Portishead near Bristol.
UK/EU students expecting to achieve a 1st or 2:1 Masters level qualification should apply as soon as possible to be eligible for funding starting September 2019