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Something like a capacitor with a gas dielectric. The gas which is used is typically an inert gas, for example argon or xenon. The reason for using an inert gas is so that chemical reactions will not occur within the gas following the ionisations which could change the characteristics of our detector. A dc voltage is placed between the two electrodes. As a result when the radiation interacts with a gas atom the electron will move towards the positive electrode and the ion will move towards the negative electrode.

Following this line of thought it is easy to appreciate that the radiation intensity will decrease with the square of the distance from the source. This effect is known as the Inverse Square Law. As a result if we double the distance from a source, we reduce the intensity by a factor of two squared, that is 4. If we treble the distance the intensity is reduced by a factor of 9, that is three squared, and so on. This is a very useful piece of information if you are working with a source of radiation and are interested in minimising the dose of radiation you will receive.

One means of doing this is by electronically lowering the dc voltage following an avalanche. A more widely used method of quenching is to add a small amount of a quenching gas to the inert gas. For example the gas could be argon with ethyl alcohol added. The ethyl alcohol is in vapour form and since it consists of relatively large molecules energy which would in their absence give rise to sustaining the electron avalanche is absorbed by these molecules. The large molecules act like a brake in effect.

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Basic Physics of Nuclear Medicine by Kieran Maher


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