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Nuclear Science Experiments for Teaching Laboratories

Research & Education

With over 45 years of experience in the nuclear measurements industry, CANBERRA is uniquely qualified to provide you with the tools for creating informative and highly productive laboratory experiences for your students. The Nuclear Science Experiments with Digital Electronics Laboratory Manual offers turn-key solutions to set up and/or refurbish your nuclear physics teaching facility with the newest and cutting-edge digital technology. 

Research & Education

CANBERRA has developed a set of 12 experiments, focusing on various aspects of gamma-ray detection and analysis, which provides an understanding of basic to more complex nuclear physics principles.  All of these experiments can be executed completely with the CANBERRA instrumentation and specialized ancillary equipment offered in the two Lab Kits described on the left. However, please note that most of the recommended radioactive sources must be obtained separately and are readily available from educational source providers if not already owned.

The Laboratory Manual and kits greatly simplify the purchase of equipment and implementation of these experiments (plus other experiments of your own design).  They can be used to create individual student workstations or a central demonstration station, depending on available space and budget.  And, of course, lab expansion is just as simple as adding more kits as your needs dictate. The kits are included in our Fuel for Innovation Program to make them even more affordable and a great asset for your teaching or research laboratory.

The Experiments
A short decription of each experiment is below. Click the link above for the full manual with the complete experiments.

Exp 1: Gamma-Ray Detection with Scintillators

In this introduction to gamma-ray detection, students will identify photoelectric effect, Compton scattering, and pair production in a spectrum and perform an energy calibration using known reference sources.

Exp 2: Counting Statistics and Error Prediction

Students will perform a series of background and gamma-ray measurements with a NaI detector and apply statistical principles to these measurements.

Exp 3: Gamma-Ray Absorption in Matter (Basic)

Students will measure the effective attenuation of a set of materials with varying densities and photon absorption cross sections.

Exp 4: Compton Scattering

Using the Compton Scattering table developed specially for this exercise, the principle of Compton scattering and the dependence on angular variation is demonstrated.

Exp 5: Half-Life Measurement

Students calculate the half-life of a short-lived nuclide using multi-channel scaling acquisition.

Exp 6: Signal Processing with Digital Signal Electronics

Using the built-in Digital Signal Oscilloscope feature of the LYNX MCA, students observe the effects of changing signal processing parameters using several different acquisition modes.

Exp 7: High-Resolution Gamma-Ray Spectroscopy with HPGe Detectors

Semiconductor gamma-ray detection is introduced and students compare HPGe resolution to NaI detector resolution.

Exp 8: Gamma-Ray Efficiency Calibration

Using both a NaI detector and an HPGe detector, the concept of detection efficiency is explored.

Exp 9: Gamma-Ray Coincidence Counting Techniques

Counting with multiple detectors correlated in time can yield incredible information about fundamental nuclear structures. In this experiment, students learn these techniques by acquiring and interpreting time-stamped list mode data for synchronized detectors.

Exp 10: Positron Annihilation

By using coincidence counting techniques and the Angular Correlation table, students explore the geometrical behavior of positron annihilation events.

Exp 11: Mathematical Efficiency Calibration

Mathematical modeling is increasingly used instead of source based efficiency calibration for improvement in cost, flexibility, and safety. In this experiment, students generate efficiency calibrations using Canberra's LabSOCS efficiency calibration software and compare against traditional source based calibrations.

Exp 12: True Coincidence Summing

Students observe true coincidence summing and quantify the effect on observed count rate using LabSOCS mathematical efficiency software.

Research & Education


Starter kit for Experiments 1-5

  • Osprey Digital MCA
  • ProSpect Gamma Spectroscopy Software
  • 802 2x2 NaI Detector
  • LabKIT-Table
    Apparatus for many of the experiments, including an angular scattering table and base plate, NaI 2"x2" detector shielding, source collimation for LABKIT-SR-CS137, scattering pillar, and absorber holder.
  • LabKIT-Abs
    Sets of 4 generic absorber materials, including aluminum, copper, lead, and polyethylene.
  • LabKIT-SR-Cs137
    15 MBq (0.5 mCi) Cs-137 source capsule, for use with the LABKIT-Table assembly.

Supplement the starter kit to complete Experiments 6-12