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Physics > Waves > What is Dosimeter and How does it Work?

What is Dosimeter and How does it Work?

Introduction to Dosimeter

We all know that radiation in excess is very harmful to our health. Although we are constantly exposed to it daily, like sunlight, some types of radiation are far more damaging to human health than the others. That is why; a device called dosimeter helps us in knowing the level of radiation in an area.

You must have seen that people are who are working in or around radioactive substances always wear a dosimeter. It helps them in preventing the damage from these radioactive substances by alerting them about the level of danger.


What Is a Dosimeter? (Dosimeter Badge)

A dosimeter is a kind of a scientific device that measures exposure. There are different types of dosimeters that have different purposes. Like there is one that tracks the exposure to the loud noise.

However, the most common one is that which we use in radiation known as TLD (thermoluminescent) dosimeter that measures the exposure to ionizing radiation.

These dosimeters come in the form of small badges and also wrist bands and comprises of phosphor crystals proficient of trapping electrons unregulated by damaging ionizing radiation. They are easy to wear and carry around and measure the dosage of harmful radiation. This allows the wearer to determine the radioactivity of an environment they are present it and prevent them from falling ill by warning beforehand.

They can be worn up to a duration of one to three months. The researchers, maintenance staff and anyone else working in a possibly radioactive setting make use of dosimeters.

How a Dosimeter Works

Prolonged exposure to X-rays, gamma rays and specific radioactive particles cause ionizing radiation. This kind of radiation has the potential to knock electrons off in normally stable molecules through its energy. Similarly, if this happens with living tissues, this loss of electrons will result in a lot of damage.

However, we can capture and measure these unregulated electrons given the right circumstances. Therefore, radiation dosimetry functions following this. The unregulated electrons by ionizing radiation can be seized within phosphor crystals, like those that constitute dosimeters.

When we heat up the phosphor crystals that capture the electrons, it releases in the form of light. This, in turn, helps us to determine the amount of radiation the dosimeter was exposed to.

Common Use of Dosimeter

We see that a Geiger counter also does somewhat similar work but it does differ from a radiation dosimeter. For instance, the Geiger counter measures the amount of radiation present in a specific area from time to time. On the other hand, the radiation dosimeter tracks the radiation exposure of the area or in a person over a long period of time.

Furthermore, we can also place them independently in environments with radioactive substances to track the average amount of radiation given off by that area. However, mostly the researchers or maintenance staff wears them while working in such areas. A lot of university departments wear dosimeters as well as the staff of the nuclear power plants in addition to some hospitals as well.

You must have also noticed chemotherapy patients often wear these dosimeters during the course of their treatment. It helps in ensuring the amount of radiation the hospital exposes them to so they may stay in the accommodating range instead of entering a possibly fatal one.

Solved Question for You

Question- What does a radiation dosimeter contain?

A. Phosphor crystals
B. Nitride crystals
C. Sulfur crystals
D. Oxygen crystals

Answer- The correct answer is option A. The radiation dosimeter contains phosphor crystals. These phosphor crystals are capable of trapping electrons unregulated by damaging ionizing radiation.

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