2012 BFY Abstract Detail Page
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||W60 - Basic Gamma Spectroscopy with a NaI(Tl) Detector
||Simple gamma spectroscopy is easily demonstrated for science students and they find such demonstrations intriguing. When given the opportunity to perform some spectroscopy on their own, we find there are many issues with instrumentation and data interpretation that have escaped them in their previous laboratory work. The meaning of calibration, the effects of small nonlinearities, the operation of high-voltage electronics, pulse amplification and analog to digital conversion are all important issues to be explored. Even reading and commenting on a gamma energy spectrum fools some good students.
We will calibrate a NaI(Tl) detector plus multichannel analyzer system to observe the spectrum from common radioisotopes. The spectrum of the Compton edges will be used to determine the mass of the electron. This experiment is an excellent test of the idea of relativistic mass-energy. If time allows, the multi-channel scaling feature of the MCA will be used to measure the half-life of the first excited state of Ba-137 and to measure the statistical nature of the decay process.
The University of the South