Advanced Digital Radiometric Instrumentation for Applied Nuclear Activities

ADRIANA is a suite of digital radiometric instrumentation which forms part of the UK National Nuclear User Facility. It was funded and set up in 2014 and comprises three separate facilities at Lancaster University, the University of Liverpool and the UKAEA Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE).


ADRIANA was established to provide researchers in the UK and their collaborators worldwide with access to state-of-the-art digital radiometric detection and measurement instruments not otherwise widely available in the UK. It comprises:

  • a digital neutron assay system (Professor Malcolm Joyce, Lancaster)
  • a digital position-sensitive CZT/germanium detector array with mechanical cooler (Dr Laura Harkness-Brennan, Liverpool)
  • digital systems for environmental radioactivity assay including a broad energy germanium (BEGe™) and small anode germanium (SAGe™) detector systems (Dr Chantal Nobs, CCFE).

Example uses

The digital neutron assay system at Lancaster comprises > 32 organic liquid scintillation detectors (EJ-309) and, given the frequent need to access sources of neutrons, this component of ADRIANA is portable. Users are responsible for shipping costs and arrangements. (UK-based university researchers – or employees of other organizations eligible to apply for UKRI funding – can apply to the NNUF funded access scheme to recoup shipping costs).

The system can be used with its associated 32 channels of digital pulse-shape discrimination firmware to separate neutron events from γ-ray events and to explore coincidence phenomena or time-of-flight correlations between these events. In the figure above, part of the system (15 detectors) is shown, courtesy of Elsevier, in use at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, USA. In this set-up the system was used to record high-order neutron multiplicity events (triples and quadruples events) to investigate the angular distribution of these emissions from spontaneous fission in 252Cf, for safeguards applications.

The broad energy germanium (BEGe™) and small anode germanium (SAGe™) detector systems (shown above) have been used for a variety of trace-level analyses of environmental samples. For example, these systems have been used to assess the abundance of 241Am in soils from contaminated land at legacy nuclear facilities, and to compare this to the contribution from other sources, such as that from the atmospheric nuclear weapons testing activities of the 1950s and 1960s. Trace assay of 241Am can be used to infer minor actinide abundance and can be used to compare to complementary assessment techniques, such as accelerator mass spectrometry.

Radiation warning symbol on metal cylinders, part of a neutron detector array.
A photograph and drawings of a detector array used for the assessment of spontaneous fission neutrons from 0.3% wt. DUO2 in research utilising the ADRIANA facility at Lancaster University. The dimensions stated here (in mm) were used to verify simulation of the detector set-up in MCNP-6


Malcolm Joyce

Professor Malcolm Joyce

Distinguished Professor & Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award Holder, Interim Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise)

Doctorate Centre in Nuclear Engineering, Energy Lancaster, Energy Lancaster Nuclear, Nuclear