EPSRC DTP PhD studentship: Textile graphene-based radioactivity detectors

University of Exeter - College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences

Main supervisor: Prof Saverio Russo (University of Exeter)
Co-supervisor:  Prof Monica Felicia Craciun (University of Exeter)

Project Description:
Radioactive isotopes are a global health hazard in nuclear fallout from both weapon detonation and disasters at power stations such as Fukushima and Chernobyl. The radioactive contamination of fallout in Scandinavia and Norway still exceeds the legal limit (3000 Bq/kg) prohibiting the grazing of cattle. Hand held laboratory instruments used to detect radioactivity such as Geiger counters provide a reliable way of measuring ionising radiation but these devices are not efficient or cost effective to test every item of food in retail shops for example. Furthermore, these devices are not easy to embed in food packaging or clothing to provide novel solutions for which a high degree of mechanical flexibility is required, such as laboratory coats for example. At the same time, the growing threats posed by terrorism together with the recent use of radioactive substances in the killing of the former Russian FSB agent A. Litvinenko in London make a compelling case for National and International security to develop conceptually new technologies able to uncover illegal smuggling of radioactive substances.

The aim of this proposal is to demonstrate the first radioactivity detector embedded on textile fibres. This detector will be based on a new class of imperceptible, flexible and ultra-lightweight sensors which exploit the insulator-to-metal transition occurring in fluorinated graphene upon exposure to a radioactive source.

The noise level (Vn) in the proposed sensors will be 𝑉𝑛≈√4𝑘B𝑇𝑅=10-9 𝑉/√𝐻𝑧, with 𝑘𝐵 the Boltzmann constant, T the temperature (273 K at room temperature), R the sample resistance (≈100 kΩ). These fluorinated graphene radioactivity detectors when used in a hand-held device with a source-drain voltage of 1V are expected to detect at least 10-14 Sv.

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South West England