The technique of gamma spectrometry using high sensitivity germanium detectors enables researchers to measure and identify trace levels of radioactivity in samples - an important and useful capability in a variety of studies from material selection in 'rare-event physics' to numerous studies of the environment.
Boulby currently houses one of the world's best germanium detector facilities (the 'BUGS' facility: Boulby Underground Germanium Suite) for selecting ultra-low activity materials for use in building future dark matter detectos and detectors for other rare event studies. This facility is enabling the UK to play a major role in the building of the wolds' most sensitive dark mattr detector (the LUX-ZEPLIN or LZ)currently under construction at the Sanford Underground Research Facility in the US. The facility will also soon be enabling the UK to play a leading role in upgrading the wolrd-leading (and the 2015 Nobel prize winning) 'Super K' neutrino detector in Japan, screening for ultra-low background Gadolinium needed to make the detector more sensitive. Operating such a suite deep underground, free of interference from cosmic rays, enables improved sensitivities of orders of magnitude compared to that achieved in surface facilities allowing the very lowest levels of radioactivity to be measured.
- STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
- Sheffield University
- University College London
- Edinburgh University
- Glasgow University
- The Scottish University Environmental Research Centre (SUERC)