What Radiation-Detecting Device Should I Use?

Attribute Geiger-Mueller
(GM) Tube
Ion Chamber Scintillation Proportional Counter Semiconductor Detector
Radiation Detected alpha • beta • x ray • gamma alpha • beta • x ray • gamma alpha • beta • x ray • gamma • neutron alpha • beta • x ray • gamma • neutron alpha • beta • x ray • gamma
Sensitive Medium Gas Gas Solid • Liquid Gas Solid
Ranges 0.04 mR/hr to 500 mR/hr 3 mR/hr to 10,000 R/hr 0.005 mR/hr to 200 mR/hr or to 800,000 c/m to 500,000 c/m to 100,000 c/m
Output Signal (V) 1 10-6 1 10-2 10-3
Resolving Time (s) 10-4 10-4 10-7 10-6 10-9
Energy Resolution (%) N/A N/A 10 15 1
  • Low dose-rate surveys
  • Area monitors
  • Personnel radiation monitors
  • Low-level contamination surveys
  • Medium and high dose-rate surveys
  • Area monitors
  • Low-level contamination surveys
  • LSC for tritium
  • Low-level contamination surveys
  • Neutron survey
  • Laboratory
  • Some field use
  • Large output signal
  • Moderate sensitivity
  • Low energy dependence
  • Simple to operate
  • High sensitivity
  • Rapid response
  • Good energy resolution
  • Rapid response
  • Excellent energy response
  • Short dead time
  • Long dead time
  • Energy dependent
  • Slow response
  • Low sensitivity
  • Fragile
  • Expensive
  • Requires stable high-voltage supply
  • Requires high amplification
  • Radiation detected depends on the type of GM tube
  • May be energy dependent
  • Some models saturate; —do not use in high radiation fields
  • Sensitive to microwave fields
  • Rate meter and audible pulse
  • Rapid response
  • Rugged, dependable
  • Wide dose-rate range on a single instrument
  • Low energy dependence
  • Some models can be used in RF fields
  • Some models slow to respond
  • High sensitivity
  • Rapid response
  • Fragile
  • Audible signal and rate meter
  • Radiation detected depends on instrument and crystal
  • Fast neutron detector where dose rate is not required
  • Primary use is for alpha detection or neutron surveys
  • Alpha detector can discriminate between alpha and beta-gamma
  • Neutron detector can discriminate against gamma radiation
  • Maintenance may be a problem
  • Primary use for alpha and gamma counting environmental samples
  • May be used for in situ gamma fields
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