Personal radiation detector at a high technology readiness level that satisfies DARPA's SN-13-47 and SIGMA program requirements

D. Ginzburg, Y. Knafo, A. Manor, R. Seif, M. Ghelman, M. Ellenbogen, V. Pushkarsky, Y. Ifergan, N. Semyonov, U. Wengrowicz, T. Mazor, Y. Kadmon, Y. Cohen, A. Osovizky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


There is a need to develop new personal radiation detector (PRD) technologies that can be mass produced. On August 2013, DARPA released a request for information (RFI) seeking innovative radiation detection technologies. In addition, on December 2013, a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for the SIGMA program was released. The RFI requirements focused on a sensor that should possess three main properties: low cost, high compactness and radioisotope identification capabilities. The identification performances should facilitate the detection of a hidden threat, ranging from special nuclear materials (SNM) to commonly used radiological sources. Subsequently, the BAA presented the specific requirements at an instrument level and provided a comparison between the current market status (state-of-the-art) and the SIGMA program objectives. This work presents an optional alternative for both the detection technology (sensor with communication output and without user interface) for DARPA's initial RFI and for the PRD required by the SIGMA program. A broad discussion is dedicated to the method proposed to fulfill the program objectives and to the selected alternative that is based on the PDS-GO design and technology. The PDS-GO is the first commercially available PRD that is based on a scintillation crystal optically coupled with a silicon photomultiplier (SiPM), a solid-state light sensor. This work presents the current performance of the instrument and possible future upgrades based on recent technological improvements in the SiPM design. The approach of utilizing the SiPM with a commonly available CsI(Tl) crystal is the key for achieving the program objectives. This approach provides the appropriate performance, low cost, mass production and small dimensions; however, it requires a creative approach to overcome the obstacles of the solid-state detector dark current (noise) and gain stabilization over a wide temperature range. Based on the presented results, we presume that the proposed approach of SiPM, with pixel size of 35 μm, coupled to a scintillation material (for gamma and neutron detection) ensures the availability and low cost of the key components. Furthermore, automated manufacturing process enables mass production, thereby fulfilling the SIGMA program requirements, both as a sensor (assimilated with mobile device) and as a full detection device.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)438-447
Number of pages10
JournalNuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research, Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Silicon photomultiplier Personal radiation detector Scintillator Dose rate DARPA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Instrumentation


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