Modern African Nuclear DEtector LAboratory

Lead Research Organisation: University of York
Department Name: Physics


The University of York (UoY) nuclear applications group is presently running a one-year GCRF project called NuTRAIN with University of Western Cape (UWC) and University of Zululand (UZ) in South Africa. They are transferring expertise in working with scintillators and silicon photomultipliers which can be applied to applications in environmental monitoring, experimental nuclear physics and medicine. Six South African students have visited York to receive training and funds have been provided to establish small detector development laboratories at UWC and UZ. The present MANDELA project intends to build on this initial training in the form of a genuine distributed project to develop the components for a new and inexpensive type of positron emission tomography (PET) scanner for medical imaging. This will be based on plastic scintillator and make use of a newly developed UK-based supply chain for plastic scintillator established by LabLogic, a company based in Sheffield close by to UoY. Students in South Africa will be trained to carry out GEANT4 simulations - a method that allows the response of radiation detectors to be studied and hence, novel detectors can be designed. Importantly, UoY will provide these simulations "in the cloud" avoiding the need for high performance computers based locally. The simulations could even be run on a web browser or on a smartphone. Based on the simulations, prototype detectors will be fabricated. Based on training received at York, the SA students will evaluate these and determine the best silicon photomultipliers and fibre optic configurations for scintillation light detection. The MANDELA project will provide funding to upgrade their detector laboratory so they can undertake the necessary work. The project will lead to a solid design for the basic components of a novel PET scanner which can be pursued through a further collaborative R&D phase or move rapidly to commercialisation.

Planned Impact

This project seeks to establish a platform for a future PET scanner based on plastic scintillator. It will do this through GEANT4 simulation to establish a design which will then be produced by LabLogic in the UK. The prototype scintillator tiles will be evaluated with a range of


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