New Detector Lets People ‘See’ Radiation

Radiation detectors can be expensive and cumbersome. Here’s one alternative, now on the market: Polaris-H, a University of Michigan project that offers handheld gamma-ray vision.

To use the camera, someone looking for radiation sets it down in a room. (Carefully, I assume.) They can then connect it to an external touchscreen, piloting the camera as it lays a radiation map over an image of the room. Unlike some other detectors, the creators say, the Polaris-H operates well at room temperature, as opposed to detectors that require cryogenically frozen components. Other scanners are simply non-imaging, meaning they have to be carted around to see different parts of the room. Plus, they run for “below $100,000,” according to a press release from the university.

A handful of nuclear plants have already adopted the technology, which the creators say could be used to detect the sources of radiation after accidents. Hopefully we won’t have to find out how it works in that scenario any time soon.