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Anno accademico2021/22
PeriodoSecondo semestre

Programma non disponibile nella lingua selezionata
Learning outcomes



This course illustrates the instruments and methods used in the measurement of ionizing radiation fields and personnel exposures. Topics covered in the course are sources and properties of nuclear radiation, mechanisms of radiation interaction with matter, and detection methods—particularly, in nuclear power generation and in medical and industrial applications. The theoretical classes are complemented by hands-on laboratory sessions illustrating some fundamental features of radiation counters and counting statistics.

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Understand radiation interactions, with particular emphasis on neutron radiation.
  • Learn the design principles of different radiation detectors and how they work.
  • Learn the techniques and applications of radiation spectroscopy.
  • Understand the statistical nature of radiation measurements and the statistics of radiation counting.
  • Learn to select the techniques for measurements at nuclear reactors and particle accelerators, industrial and medical installations, and for safeguards verification and contraband interdiction.
Assessment criteria of knowledge

Ongoing assessment to monitor academic progress will be carried out in the form of continuous teacher-student interactions during the classes. Often, a group of students will be tasked with addressing a specific issue or problem.


By the end of the course:

  • Students will know how to select the most suitable techniques for measurements in specific scenarios such as: nuclear reactors and particle accelerators, industrial and medical installations, and safeguards verification and contraband interdiction.
  • Students will be able to conduct research and analysis of small “check” sources of radiation in our laboratory.
  • Students will be able to prepare a written report on the results of their laboratory activity carried out involving radiation detectors and check sources.
Assessment criteria of skills

During the laboratory sessions, small groups of students will work with our radiation measurements devices and check sources in order to assess and document the statistical nature of radiation interactions and how detector properties affect the reliability of measurements, with particular emphasis on temporal resolution of the detectors (dead-time aspects). Students will have to prepare a written report that documents the results of the project activity.


By the end of the course:

  • Students will acquire an awareness of the environmental issues affecting the response and reliability of radiation detectors.
  • Students will be able to manage the responsibility of leading a small team performing laboratory experiments.
  • Students will acquire accuracy and precision when collecting and analyzing experimental data in the laboratory.
Assessment criteria of behaviors

During the radiation measurements laboratory sessions, the accuracy and precision of the activities carried out will be evaluated

During laboratory group work, the methods of assigning responsibility, management and organization during the experiments will be evaluated

Following laboratory activities, students will be requested to submit short reports concerning the experiments carried out and the data analysis methodologies discussed.


Students should be proficient in the fundaments of atomic and nuclear physics, in electromagnetism, calculus and the principles of nuclear engineering.

Teaching methods

The course is based on highly-interactive class lectures, with visual aids such as PowerPoint™ presentations and video clips which are made available to the students.

Laboratory session take place in our didactic and research locales where students are asked to form groups, use the available didactic instrumentation, observe demonstrations of the operation of our most delicate research tools, and utilize their personal computers for data analysis.

Supporting tools and activities are regularly included, such as researching materials from recommended websites, attending topical seminars given by other teaching and research faculty members.

While the course does not have a dedicated e-learning site, a website is available from which students can download educational materials, including freely available textbooks, lecture slides, papers to revise at home.

Communications between lecturer and students mainly occur via face-to-face meetings, email exchanges and an increasing use or social media.

The course is offered entirely in English, with translation and clarifications in Italian when required.


Course introduction and overview; Atomic and nuclear structure basics; Binding energies; Nuclear stability; Main nuclear decay modes; Energetics of alpha particle decay; Energetics of beta decays, gamma emission, internal conversion, electon capture; Fission] Bates equations single decay; Specific activity; Bates equations decay in series; Secular and transient equilibria; Radiation interactions, heavy ions, Bethe-Bloch equation; Radiation Field Types; Natural and artificial radiation sources; reference/calibration field characteristics and standards;scatter corrections, shadow cone and distance variation; radionuclide sources; accelerators; Detector generalities (intrinsic and geometric efficiency); operation modes (current, integration, pulse); Ionization chambers (integration, current and pulse modes); signal formation and collection; Proportional counters; signal formation and operating parameters; Geiger-Muller counters; operation and data acquisition; Scintillator detectors; operation principles (organic and onrganic materials); gamma spectroscopy (Full energy peak, single/multiple Compton regions); Gamma spectroscopy (annihilation photons, bremsstrahlung x-rays); Analysis of gamma spectra from various sources (inorganic and organic scintillator spectra); Nuclear interactions used in neutron detection; Neutron detection generalities; BF3 and He-3 proportional counters for neutrons; resolution, pulse spectrum wall effects; Fission detectors, boron lined detectors; neutron spectrometry vs photon spectroscopy, sandwich detectors; Proton telescopes, proton recoil detectors; Moderation based systems, emulsions, unfolding; Self-powered in-core detectors, activation detectors, criticality detectors; Basic nuclear electronics concepts; Semiconductor detectors: electronics of PN diodes, detection; Detection systems for safety, security and safeguards Geiger-Müller counters,measurement of response plateau and dead time characteristics; Geiger-Muller counters;Data analysis: Poisson statistics, Chi-square test;


Recommended reading includes the class materials mentioned above and the following textbook:

Glenn Knoll, Radiation Detection and Measurement, John Wiley & Sons.

Further bibliography may be indicated.

Non-attending students info

Students are not required to attend the course in order to be admitted to the proficiency examination. All materials are made available to non-attending students, who can also request meetings with instructor and assistants in order to address topics of interest and requests for clarifications.

Assessment methods

The final proficiency exam is an oral test consisting of an interview between the candidate, the lecturer, and the lecturer’s collaborators. The average length of the interview is one hour and the number of professors conducting the interview is usually two. During the test, students are assessed on their understanding and critical analysis of the course contents using the appropriate terminology. The test is divided into several parts, corresponding to the various sections of the program. In order to pass the exam, it is useful although not mandatory to attend the classes and to have completed the educational laboratory activities. The test will not have a positive outcome if the candidate repeatedly demonstrates an inability to relate and link parts of the program with notions and ideas that they must combine in order to correctly respond to a question, or if the candidate does not respond sufficiently to questions regarding the most fundamental part of the course.

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Ultimo aggiornamento 13/09/2021 03:45