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Gamma Ray Spectroscopy


Gamma spectroscopy basics
Photon interacts, produces burst of electrons
Applied bias voltage sweeps electrons from
Current produced by electrons forms signal pulse
Pulse size is increased with a preamplifier
Pulse is further intensified and shaped with
Pulse intensity is converted into numerical value
using ADC
Numerical values are sent to MCA


Single-Channel Analyzer

(Crystal &




Multi-Channel Analyzer
(Crystal &


Analog to







Idealized Gamma-Ray
Spectrum in NaI



Components of Spectrum Counts per Energy Interval Backscatter Peak X-ray Peak Compton edge Photopeak Annihilation Peak Energy Eo 6 .

Other components of spectrum Single escape peak Double escape peak 7 .

Pulse height spectrum reflects the energy distributions of interactions of incident photons 8 .

Basic Gamma Spectroscopy Total Absorption Peak 10000 TAP Counts (#) 1000 100 10 1 0 100 200 300 Energy (keV) 400 500 9 .

Photopeak It encloses pulses produced by total absorption of gamma rays of particular energy Resolution of pulsed height spectrum is described as Full Width at Half Maximum (FWHM) FWHM = Width of the photopeak at half its maximum height / position of photopeak along the pulse height scale 10 .

Example 11 .

Compton Continuum 12 .

and the height of the Compton plateau is reduced 13 .Heights of photopeak and compton plateu vary with size of crystal In a larger crystal. more scattered photons interact before they escape from the crystal. Hence the height of the photopeak is increased.

Pulse height spectra for 137Cs measured with NaI(Tl) crystals of different sizes 14 .

and this voltage pulse falls within the photopeak. As the vacancy left by the photoelectron is filled by an electron from the L shell. If the 28-keV x ray interacts in the scintillation crystal. then the light released during this interaction contributes to formation of the voltage pulse for the primary γ ray. 15 .X-ray escape peaks A γ ray that interacts photoelectrically in a NaI(Tl) crystal usually ejects an electron from the K shell of iodine. a characteristic x ray is released with an energy equal to the difference (28 keV) in binding energy of L and K electrons in iodine.

An iodine x-ray escape peak is present at a position 22 keV 16 .Pulse height spectrum for 109Cd.

Some of these x rays escape from the shield and strike the NaI(Tl) crystal to produce peaks in the pulse height spectrum.Characteristics X-ray peak Characteristic x rays are released as γ rays from a radioactive source undergo photoelectric interaction in the lead shield surrounding the source and detector. 17 .

The x-ray peak is reduced by increasing the inner dimensions of the shield to 32 × 32 in.03 in.Characteristic x-ray peak at 72 keV produced by xrays from a 6 x 6-in. lead shield surrounding a scintillation detector and a 51Cr source. of cadmium (dashed curve). 18 . (dottedcurve) or by lining the shield with 0.

The peak appears at the energy (few hundred kev) from a photon scattered back at ~180.Backscatter Peak Here we are looking at the scattered photon off the surrounding lead. 19 .

835MeV γ rays from 54Mn is higher for iron than for lead. iron shield because the relative probability of Compton interaction of the 0. The backscatter peak is greatest for the 6 × 6-in. The backscatter peak is reduced if the distance between the shield and the detector is increased 20 .The backscatter peak at about 200 keV is produced by absorption in the detector of photons scattered at wide angles during Compton interactions of primary γ rays in the detector-source shield.

This process results in the production of an annihilation peak in the pulse height spectrum 21 . then one of the annihilation photons may escape from the shield and interact in the crystal. If a primary γ ray interacts by pair production in the detector-source shield.Annihilation peak Pair-production interaction of γ rays with an energy greater than 1.02 MeV is accompanied by release of 511-keV annihilation photons.

22 .

one or both of which may escape from the crystal.511 MeV below the photopeak for the primary γ ray.02 MeV below the photopeak 23 . Pulses that reflect the loss of both annihilation photons contribute to the double-escape peak that occurs at a location 1.Annihilation Escape Peaks Pair production of high-energy (>1. Pulses that reflect the loss of one annihilation photon contribute to the single-escape peak that occurs at a location 0.02 MeV) photons in the scintillation crystal results in the emission of two 511-keV annihilation photons.

24 .

Characteristic xrays are emitted as electron shell transitions take place to fill the lower empty shell. 25 .Characteristic X-rays Photons emitted by the source ionize the surrounding material.

Typically. Lea d Cadmiu m Copper 26 . graded shields are introduced. cadmium sheets are placed on the lead followed by copper on the cadmium.Characteristic X-Rays and Graded Shields You only see this for K-shell electrons in high Z (lead) materials and moderately high activity sources. Copper and cadmium are used because both are malleable and cheap. Why? To eliminate these peaks. Other materials can be used as long as you go from high-tolow Z materials.

It is an activation product commonly used for energy calibrations as well as QA/QC. 27 .Gamma Ray Spectroscopy Let us look at 60Co.

Expected Spectra Based on Decay 28 .

Actual Spectra 1000000 Counts (#) 100000 10000 1000 100 10 1 0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500 3000 Energy (keV) 29 .

Sum peaks can also be observed in samples containing isotopes that emit only one photon per decay. there is a chance that both will deposit energy in the detector. a sum peak can be observed.Reason When an isotope emits more than one photon in a single decay process. When this happens. 30 . This is generally only true for high activity samples.

When this happens.Single Escape Peaks Because the detector volume is finite. there is a possibility that one of the annihilation photons created from pair production events in the detector can escape. 31 .511 keV. a peak can be observed at an energy equal to the TAP .

Single Escape Peak 1000000 Counts (#) 100000 10000 1000 100 10 1 0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500 3000 Energy (keV) 32 .

then a peak can be observed at TAP – 1022 keV.Double Escape Peak If both annihilation photons exit the detector. 33 .

Double Escape Peak 1000000 Counts (#) 100000 10000 1000 100 10 1 0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500 3000 Energy (keV) 34 .

there is possibility that one of the two annihilation photons will deposit energy into the detector. 1000000 Counts (#) 100000 10000 1000 100 10 1 0 500 1000 1500 Energy (keV) 2000 2500 3000 35 . an annihilation peak can be observed at 511 keV.Annihilation Peak If a pair production event occurs in the surrounding shielding material. When this happens.

HPGe detectors 36 .

12% at 1.Detector Efficiency The efficiency of an HPGe detector is usually expressed relative to a 3 X 3 NaI detector. 37 . Relative efficiencies range from 10% to 150% for HPGe detectors.33 MeV in a specified geometry. The absolute efficiency of the NaI detector is 0.

Detector Efficiency 38 .

Energy Resolution Good resolution Counts Poor resolution Energy 39 .

Calculation of Resolution Y Resolution. R = FWHM Eo Counts Y/2 FWHM Energy Eo 40 .

Detection Efficiency = Number of pulses recorded Number of radiation quanta emitted by source 41 .

“dead” to further input) Cannot resolve two particles closely spaced in time (“coincidence loss”) High dead time Means the detector is “missing” many counts Can introduce counting errors into results.g.Dead time Extremely “hot” (e. 42 . high activity) samples produce rapid pulses Following each pulse the detector is unavailable (e.g.

seconds Ro R 1  R o 43 .Correcting for Coincidence Loss Called “dead time or resolving time” corrections Where R= true counting rate (c/s) R0 = observed counting rate (c/s)  = resolving time.

Tools Gamma Ray Energy Libraries Spectral Analysis Software 44 .

Compton Continuum 45 .

Compton Basics    Ee  E     1  E  511 keV 1  cos   E      E e max  411 keV      411 keV  411 keV 1  cos 180   1 511 keV  E e  254 keV at   180 E e min  0 at   0 46 .

Compton Edge  = 0  = 180 “Compton Edge” 47 .

Gold Example 48 .

Gold HPGe Spectrum 49 .

Spectrum Where do the counts between the TAP and the Compton edge come from? Where do the counts greater than the TAP come from? 50 .