Published: 17 June 2020

Student’s research published in leading radiation journal

The results of an MSc student’s research into using a silicon component to improve the performance of commonly used radiation monitors has been published in Journal of Radiological Protection.

Mohammed Alharbi conducted the research for his dissertation as part of his MSc Radiation and Environmental Protection, working with researchers within Surrey’s Department of Physics.

His research explored the use of a silicon photomultiplier (a device which detects light) in a radiation monitor to detect surface contamination or spillage of radioactive materials. The radiation monitor tested is one of the most widely used across hospitals, radiation labs and for industrial purposes.

The silicon photomultiplier used by Mohammed and the research team is much smaller in size than the bulky photomultiplier conventionally used, can withstand harsher operation conditions such as high or low temperatures, and requires lower voltage to operate. This means it can be used to monitor many different types of environment.

Mohammed explained: “My research showed a great capability for silicon photomultipliers to be used in these systems. The physical robustness of the silicon could help in manufacturing better hand-held radiation monitors with improved designs.”

Currently working as a teaching assistant at Taif University in Saudi Arabia, Mohammed now plans to pursue a PhD in the field of nuclear physics.

He said: “I was delighted to hear that the paper was accepted for publishing, It is great news after working long hours in labs. However I feel I already won my ‘first prize’ when I joined the Department of Physics where I met some wonderful teachers and students. The masters programme sharpened my skills, expanded my knowledge and provided me with a challenge, putting me on the path to becoming a scientist.”

Professor Paul Sellin said: “Opportunities like this one, which was originated by one of our industrial supporters, are good for our students, who enjoy working on industrially-relevant projects. It is also very satisfying for them when their work gets published in a research journal and their results are made available to the wider community.”

The research paper, ‘Retrofitting an environmental monitor with a silicon photomultiplier sensor’, was published in Journal of Radiological Protection on 14 May 2020.


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