Course Overview

NE 204 - Advanced Concepts in Radiation Detection and Measurement

Fall Semester, 2018

Credit hours: 3
Lecture: TuTh 2:00-3:00 PM in 54 Barrows Hall
Lab: Wed 2:00-6:00 PM in 1110B Etcheverry Hall


Ross Barnowski (
Office Location: 4159 Etcheverry Hall
Lab Location: 1140 Etcheverry Hall
Office Hours: Wednesdays, 9AM - 1PM | 1110B Etcheverry Hall

Course Description

NE 204 is a graduate-level laboratory course on advanced concepts and applications of radiation detection and measurement. The lecture component of the course introduces the theoretical bases for advanced concepts in radiation detection including signal formation and processing, radiation imaging, and advanced instrumentation and applications. The laboratory component emphasizes the practical aspects of these concepts utilizing a variety of radiation sources in conjunction with state-of-the-art detectors and signal-processing equipment. Laboratory work is to be performed using modern best-practices for collaborative and reproducible scientific investigation, including open-source data analysis, version control, and rigorous peer-review.


Graduate standing is required for enrollment. All students must have completed coursework in introductory nuclear physics (NE 101 or equivalent) and the undergraduate radiation instrumentation laboratory (NE 104 or equivalent). These requirements may be waived at the discretion of the instructor.

Additional coursework including introductory signals and systems (EE 20, BioE 165 or equivalent) and introduction to imaging (NE 107 or equivalent) would be beneficial but is not required.

Course objectives

Upon completion of this course, students will...

  • Be familiar with advanced concepts for the measurement of high-energy radiation in a variety of detectors based on direct or indirect ionization induced by photons and neutrons.
  • Be familiar with modern digital signal processing techniques for extracting timing and spectroscopic information from electronic signals originating in radiation detectors.
  • Be capable of collecting digital signals from radiation detector systems and implementing forementioned techniques in software.
  • Understand the theory behind signal generation and charge transport in semiconductor detector systems and be capable of evaluating semiconductor detectors vis-a-vis signal shape and charge transport properties.
  • Be capable of collecting data from and characterizing multi-channel radiation detector systems.
  • Be familiar with gamma-ray imaging techniques, including collimated and collimator-less modalities.
  • Understand from experience the challenges associated with advanced radiation detection systems, including high data rates, configuration of multichannel systems, and reliability for advanced applications.
  • Be proficient with modern software tools for the effective scientific/technical communication, and have experience producing and reviewing reproducible scientific work.

Topics Covered

Topics covered in the course include (but are not limited to):

  • Gamma-ray detection and imaging.
  • Neutron detection and imaging.
  • Digital signal processing, digital vs. analog filtering.
  • Signal generation in semiconductor detectors.
  • Charge transport in semiconductor detectors.
  • Experimental setup and measurement; recording, analysis, and uncertainty estimation of digital radiation detector data.
  • Applications of radiation detection and measurement in nuclear science and experimental physics, biomedicine, environmental science, and nuclear security and safeguards.

Course Requirements

NE 204 students are responsible for...

  • Attending weekly lectures and lab sessions.
  • Reading and discussing assigned papers and articles.
  • Three pre-defined lab reports (subject to change based on enrollment and availability of equipment).
  • Proposing, designing, and executing a final project.

Assigned Reading: Relevant papers, articles, and thesis chapters on advanced radiation detector concepts will be assigned throughout the semester. Students will be responsible for reading and holding a discussion on the assigned paper on a weekly or biweekly basis (depending on the length of the article).

Lab Reports: Students will be placed into research teams with a minimum of two and a maximum of four students per team (depending on enrollment). The research teams will be responsible for setting up and collecting data for a series of pre-defined experiments (see below). Experimental setup and data collection is expected to be done collaboratively, but each student is responsible for producing and submitting an individual lab report.

Final Project: Each research team is responsible for a final project based on the advanced concepts discussed in class. Each team must submit a project proposal detailing the motivation for and design of the study. Deliverables include a written lab report as well as a technical presentation. Each team will also be responsible for peer-review of projects proposed by other teams.


  • Lab Reports: 45%
  • Final Project: 45%
  • Participation (lab, readings): 10%

Course texts

There are no required textbooks for this course. The majority of the material is derived from the open literature; relevant articles and papers will be posted continuously throughout the semester. It is strongly recommended that all students have a copy of Radiation Detection and Measurement, 4th Ed by Glenn Knoll for background and reference. Semiconductor Detector Systems by Helmuth Spieler is an advanced textbook that serves as a detailed reference for many concepts covered in this course. Practical Gamma-ray Spectrometry is an excellent book that may prove useful for the practical aspects of radiation measurement encountered in the lab portion of the course.

In addition, the following are excellent references on collaborative, reproducible workflows for scientific computing:

Course Policies

Academic Integrity

All papers and reports submitted by students are presumed to be their own original work that has not been previously submitted for credit in another course. Evaluation of the assigned readings are based on the honor system.


Collaboration is strongly encouraged amongst research teams and between all students in the course, however it is the responsibility of each student to ensure all submitted work is enirely their own and reflects their own understanding. Collaborative efforts relating to data analysis and report writing are encouraged, but must be done in review. In other words, data analysis and written work must be undertaken by each student individually prior to any peer review. Plagarism or the direct sharing of completed data analyses between students who have not yet reached the pre-defined milestones in analysis of their own undertaking will not be tolerated.

Laboratory Safety

Each student is responsible for completing the necessary training to be placed on Radiation User Authorization (RUA) #8905. Once on RUA 8905, each student will be provided with thermoluminescent dosimeter (TLD) badges that must be worn at all times in the laboratory areas (1110B Etcheverry Hall, 1140 Etcheverry Hall). Any radioactive sources used during experiments must be logged out using the physical source log in 1110B Etcheverry hall. Standard operating procedures (SOPs) governing the use and handling of radioactive sources are available on the UC Berkeley radiation safety information system (RSIS). It is the responsibility of the students to familiarize themselves with these SOPs prior to using or handling radioactive sources. In additon to the SOPs, ALARA principles should be observed at all times when handling radioactive sources.