Low-Power MCA Electronics - Remote Gamma Ray Spectrometer

“This design is a really good
example of fine circuit engineering and use of our low-power embedded software stack, to give a result that impressed the customer beyond their expectations”

Steve Braithwaite, Electronics Team Leader

Multi-Channel Analysers (MCA) are used for detecting the presence of radioactive elements via their gamma or neutron emissions. When this is done remotely and battery-powered, long life, as well as high performance, are needed.

The Challenges:

  • Low-power operation, battery-powered and small size
  • Electronics for capture-hold scintillator pulses with minimal distortion
  • Logging software designed to minimize ‘blind spots’ when pulses are not seen
  • Temperature control software to remove the scintillator and silicon sensor temperature characteristics
  • The need to design a high accuracy peak hold circuit for capturing detector pulse

The Solution

  • Exceeded customer expectations to provide battery operation over many months, rather than weeks
  • Low-power software using our Embedded Core Stack to reduce project time and risk, whilst giving an excellent low-power design with minimal blind spots
  • Excellent circuit design for pulse peak hold circuits
  • Logging with extremely small blind spots

The Outcome

  • A new generation of low-power MCAs for remote use
  • Longer duration of measurement campaigns when used in battery-powered remote locations
  • Led to a continued relationship in the research of MCAs and increasing their features

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