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     Description: kth_cmyk    SH2306




(Experimentell teknik fr krn- och partikelfysik)

[8 ECTS credits for Master students in Physics and Engineering Physics (Teknisk fysik civilingenjr)]

The course is also given as an introductory graduate course [FSH3306, Detection techniques for Nuclear and Particle Physics 8 credits]

Course coordinator:

Professor of Experimental Nuclear Physics
Department of Physics, Royal Institute of Technology (KTH)
Roslagstullsbacken 21, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
(AlbaNova Centre for Physics, Astronomy and Biotechnology)

email: cederwall  @

Ionizing radiation is the only observable in processes that occur on a scale that is either too brief or too small to be observed directly. Originally developed for atomic, nuclear and elementary particle physics, radiation detectors are now applied in many diverse areas of science, engineering and everyday life. Progress in science is driven by the interplay of theory and experiment as well as by breakthroughs in instrumentation. Understanding basic radiation detector principles is therefore extremely useful for both scientists and engineers.
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The course covers selected topics on basic radiation detection techniques for nuclear and  particle  physics with applications.
The course is intended for students that have finished their 2-3 first years of basic education in physics or engineering physics or have started their graduate studies.
The course language is English.

Lectures are held in the seminar room, Nuclear Physics, KTH (C3:3031), AlbaNova Campus, according to the following

Course Schedule SH2306


      Overview of Radiation Detectors of Nuclear and Particle Physics

      The interaction of electromagnetic and particle radiation with matter

      Energy Loss Mechanisms and Spectrum Formation

      Basic principles of Detectors for Ionizing Radiation

      Semiconductor Detectors (and ionization chambers)

      Scintillation detectors, Photomultipliers and Photodiodes

      Gaseous Detectors

      Position Sensitive Detectors

      Detectors for Weakly Ionizing Radiation

      Monte Carlo Simulations of Detector Systems

      Signal Formation, Electronic noise and Optimization of Signal-to-Noise Ratio

      Pulse Processing Electronics, Amplification, Pulse Shaping and Digitization

      Timing and lifetime measurements

      Development of a Detector System Concept

      Applications of Nuclear and Particle Physics



Learning objectives

      The course aims to provide the students with an understanding of basic radiation detection techniques for nuclear and particle physics and their applications in other fields of science, medicine and industry. After completion of the course the student shall be able to:

      Describe the basic interaction mechanisms relevant for radiation detectors and explain their importance for detecting various types of ionizing radiation at different energies.

      Describe the properties of the most common types of detector materials, the working principles behind detectors based on these materials and their characteristic properties with respect to energy resolution, efficiency etc.

      Apply the knowledge about radiation interactions and detector principles to choose the most suitable type of detector for a given detection task. 

      Select the appropriate electronics building blocks needed for a certain detector system and explain their function.

      Describe common sources of noise in radiation detection, their origin and how they can be minimized.

      Explain the limiting factors to the energy and time resolution of a detector system.

      Design a radiation detection system, including its basic electronics building blocks, and use it in the laboratory.

      Compile information from own work and from the scientific literature into a written report and an oral presentation.


The course covers 4 main parts:

1) The interaction of electromagnetic and particle radiation with matter. In this part basic physics is treated. In order to understand how detectors work such knowledge is necessary. In practice one wants a detector to do a certain "job". It might mean that one has to select (from the market) or even to construct a detector for a specific purpose. Therefore we learn about cross sections of different interactions, range of particles, mean free path, absorption of radiation in matter, radiation damage, radiation safety etc.

2) Basic detector principles. Detector properties are covered as well as statistical processes in detectors. Different types of detector materials (gas, scintillation detectors, semi-conductors, photo and electron multipliers) are discussed. Systems of detectors working together for improved resolution. One laboratory exercise is included: Each student will be asked to study one detector and to present the results for the other students.

3) Basic electronics. Pulse electronics; preamplifiers, linear amplifiers, shaping of pulses, analysis of pulses, discriminators. Electronics for logical decisions. Data collection. 

4) Applications  for Medicine, Industry and other Fields. Examples of Applications include Positron Emission Tomography in Medical Imaging, trace element analysis by PIXE and neutron activation, monitoring of radioactive substances in the environment and for public safety, detection of contraband.


Project work: An extended laboration or other project work is performed in groups of 2 or 3 students. Each project will contain an exercise on Monte-Carlo simulations.


Examples of lab projects (to be revised).  

Before starting a lab project, you MUST read the provided radiation protection information.


Examination will be done by oral and written student presentations of the project work and a written examination.
Grades are determined based on the result of the written examination weighted by the result of the oral and written presentations of the project work (0,+1, or -1 grade unit).

Grading scheme for the written examination:

E: At least 50% correct answers.

D: At least 60% correct answers.

C: At least 70% correct answers.

B: At least 80% correct answers.

A: At least 90% correct answers.

Fx: 40 – 49% correct answers


The project report is be expected to be approximately 10 pages (depending on the content) + figures

Guidelines for writing a project report:

General guidelines

American Institute of Physics Style Manual


Oral examination of project work

The oral examination consists of a 15-20 minute presentation from each group
followed by 10 minutes of questions and discussion. The questioning is lead by the
opponent group (see lab project instructions above!) which has prepared 4 questions
on the report that they have been given to examine. The presentation shall include a
brief demonstration of the GEANT4 simulation performed in the project.


Glenn F. Knoll, Radiation Detection and Measurement, 3rd ed. (Wiley, 2000)
W.R. Leo, Techniques for Nuclear and Particle Physics Experiments, Second Revised Edition (Springer Verlag, 1994).
H. Spieler, Semiconductor Detector Systems, (Oxford University Press, 2008).


Bo Cederwall                                                                                                                         


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