New generation nuclear detectors for use in well logging

Lead Research Organisation: University of York
Department Name: Physics


Well logging is a key tool for oil and gas exploration, where the composition and structure of strata are probed by introducing instruments down a borehole. Radiation detection is important to this type of approach but is challenging as it must perform highly in an environment with strongly elevated temperatures. We will evaluate the potential for silicon carbide-based APDs as a platform for such radiation detectors when coupled to appropriate scintillator crystals. The test system will be evaluated at temperatures realistic to well logging.

Planned Impact

This is a call linked to industry so the entire purpose of the project is to generate impact. This is spelt out in the case for support.


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Description We worked on developing new detectors for borehole logging for oil and gas exploration, exploiting our earlier projects working on scintillators and silicon photomultipliers. We explored the capability of silicon carbide for radiation detection applications down a borehole.
Exploitation Route Going forward, we hope to develop detectors that will be taken up by the oil and gas exploration industry. We have already engaged with various companies working in this area which ensures that we are well informed with what their requirements are. An example is Robertson Geologging based in North Wales.
Sectors Energy,Environment

Description The project has had some impact both for the intended aims as well as supporting our parallel work on solid-state light collection for radiation detection. We have shared our findings with Robertson Geologging based in North Wales who are a leading player in the development of logging equipment for oil and gas exploration. We also made contact with Schlumberger and with Micron Semiconductor who are interested in single crystal diamond detectors. In October 2016, we recommenced work on this project funded by an EPSRC impact award to the University of York. The evolution of silicon photomultiplier technology in the interim since the original STFC-funded project now makes this a viable, low-cost solution. We are therefore working on a gamma-ray detector that may operate at 80 C based on this technology and which will be simple and robust for borehole logging. We hope to commercialise it with our partner, Robertson Geologging. As of February 2019, we are building a prototype for testing in the borehole on the Robertson site. This will be the stepping stone to commercialisation.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Energy,Healthcare,Security and Diplomacy
Impact Types Economic

Description Nuclear physics outreach work 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact For the last ten years, I have been involved in a whole range of outreach activities related to nuclear physics, from lectures to local groups e.g. astronomical societies to lectures at major science festivals. A major focus has been on providing continuous professional development courses for teachers. These have taken place at several science learning centres including National Science Learning Centre in York. In addition, they have been given at Rutherford Lab and elsewhere. Around 500 teachers have been reached over the years.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2006,2007,2008,2009,2010