Scintillation Counter

PhysicsElectromagnetic waves


A Scintillation counter is basically an instrument that assists in detecting the radiation. Scintillation is mentioned as the flash of light that is created by transparent material because of the passage of subatomic ions, electrons, photons or alpha particles. Scintillation is a huge part of the detector and it ideally comprises Scintillator and photodetector.

A scintillator helps in releasing the light when the particles of high energy hit it. The energy of the released light pulse is directly proportional to that particle which strikes the scintillator. A photodetector in the Scintillation counter assists in converting the electrical light to a signal in order to operate the signal.

What is a Scintillation counter?

A Scintillation counter or scintillation detector is demonstrated as the radiation detector which utilises the impact termed scintillation. Scintillation is known as the light flash created in a transparent material by a particle's passage (Videla et al. 2019).

Scintillation counters are broadly utilised in case of radiation protection, physics research and an array of radioactive materials. Scintillation counter is created inexpensively with better efficiency and can calculate both the energy and intensity of incident radiation. For instance, hospitals located in all nations possess gamma cameras relied on the impact of scintillation.

Figure 1: Scintillation detector

Scintillation counters is extremely beneficial through their effectiveness, counting rates and high precision that are possible. The pulses created are detected in the traditional electronics circuit after proper amplification. As opined by Kotapati & Bates (2018), in scintillator counters, the pulses created by the particles of alpha were spotted by the phosphor, ZnS with the effectiveness of 100 per cent. A scintillation detector or counter is received when scintillation is integrated into the sensor of electronic lights such as a photodiode, photomultiplier tube and CCD camera.

Types of Scintillation counter

Scintillation counters are basically of two types that are utilised in particle and nuclear physics. Plastic scintillation and crystalline scintillation are the major two types.

Figure 2: Scintillation counter

Plastic or organic scintillators: Organic scintillators are referred to as organic materials that give photons in the visible spectrum part after the charged particle goes through. The mechanisms of scintillation in organic materials are created due to the energy transformation level of a single molecule (Sharma, Singh & Kookana, 2021). The fluorescence in the organic materials is seen independently of physical forms that are solid, liquid and vapour.

Crystalline or inorganic scintillators: These types of scintillators are created in furnaces of high temperature. Lithium iodide (LiI), sodium iodide (NaI) and zinc sulphide (ZnS) are included in the type of crystalline scintillators. NaI(TI) (thallium-doped sodium iodide) are highly utilised in the materials of inorganic scintillation (Physicswave, 2022). The inorganic scintillators possess great effectiveness to detect gamma rays and are capable of managing high rates of the count.

Application of Scintillation counter

Scintillation counters are generally utilised in radiation survey metres, radioactive contamination, nuclear plant safety and radiometric assay. It is also applied in the medical imagining that is utilised to calculate the radiation (Iammarino et al. 2018). Scintillation counters are structured for applications of weighbridge, scrap metal yards, freight terminals, border security and ports.

Figure 3: Principle construction and working of Scintillation counter

It is greatly utilised in technologies for screening, in alternative technologies of Vivo and ELISA, cancer research, Cellular research and epigenetics. Scintillation possesses its applications in protein detection and interaction, pharmaceuticals and academic research. A liquid Scintillation counter is mentioned as the type of Scintillation counter that is utilised for calculating the emission of beta from the nuclides.

Difference between scintillation and Geiger counter

The major differences between Geiger counter and Scintillation are mentioned in the table below.

Geiger counterScintillation

The short name for the Geiger-Muller counter is the Geiger counter, which helps to detect ionizing radiation.

The short name for the Geiger-Muller counter is the Geiger counter, which helps to detect ionizing radiation.

Geiger counter is relatively cheaper than scintillation (Lowdon et al. 2019).

Scintillation is relatively more expansive than the Geiger counter.

In the context of the operation of the Geiger counter works by the individual gas ionizing principle.

In the context of the operation of Scintillation, works by the scintillation of crystals principle.

It Requires low voltage to work.

It Requires low voltage to work.

In GM, 2 electrodes are formed that produced the secondary electrons.

In Scintillation, a series of electrodes are formed that produced the secondary electrons in the Scintillation counter.

Geiger counter has low sensitive techniques.

Scintillation has high sensitive techniques.

Table 1: Difference between scintillation and Geiger counter


Scintillation counter and Geiger counter are the 2 devices that are commonly used to quantify and detect the radiation. Geiger counter can easily detect all types of radiation like beta, alpha, and grammar rays and the Scintillation counter can only detect the ionizing radiation. There is a specific difference in the application and the working principle of Scintillation counter and Geiger counter. The GM has a low level of radiation while looking for surface contamination. The scintillation detector is considered to be the radiation detector that uses the effect called scintillation. Scintillation is mainly the flashlight that is produced in a transparent material through the passage of particles like alpha particles, beta particles, higher energy protons, and an ion.


Q1. What are the advantages of the Geiger-Muller counter?

Ans. It can count the exact rate of gamma, alpha, and beta particles and also the cosmic rays. It has a higher rate of output pulse and that is why the amplification required is very subtle.

Q2. What are the advantages of the Scintillation counter?

Ans. Scintillation counter advantages are it has higher sensitivity, high precision, and efficiency. Counting rates are possible here and have a short duration of flash of light, that is from around, 10-9 (organic scintillators) - 10-6 (inorganic scintillators) in seconds.

Q3. Why is the Geiger-Muller counter useful?

Ans. GM is used as an electronic device for measuring and detecting the ionizing radiation. It is commonly used in devices like radiological protection, radiation dosimetry and in the tool used in the nuclear industry.

Q4. What causes the Scintillation?

Ans. Scintillation is caused due to tens of meter to tens of km (small-scale) structure in the ionospheric density of the electron. This density of electron is structured along with the signal path density and is the result of refracted interference or the result of scattered or diffracted waves.

Updated on 13-Oct-2022 11:19:47