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A thalium-doped sodium iodide well counter for radioactive tracer applications with naturally-abundant 40K

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date11/09/2013
JournalNuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment
Number of pages6
Original languageEnglish


The use of a thallium-doped sodium-iodide well-type scintillation detector for the assay of the low-activity radioisotope 40K, in open-source potassium chloride aqueous solutions, is described. The hazards, safety concerns and radiowaste generation associated with using open-source radioactive isotopes can present significant difficulties, the use of hot cells and escalated costs in radioanalytical laboratory research. A solution to this is the use of low-hazard alternatives that mimic the migration and dispersion characteristics of notable fission products (in this case 137Cs). The use of NaI(Tl) as a detection medium for naturally-abundant levels of 40K in a range of media is widespread, but the use of 40K as a radioactive tracer has not been reported. The use of such low-activity sources is often complicated by the ability to detect them efficiently. In this paper a scintillator detector designed to detect the naturally-abundant 40K present in potassium chloride in tracer applications is described. Examples of the use of potassium chloride as a tracer are given in the context of ion exchange and electrochemical migration studies, and comparisons in performance are drawn from literature with hyper pure germanium semiconductor detectors, which are more commonly utilised detectors in high-resolution counting applications.