Physics Section Activities
Successful use of nuclear technology depends on reliable instruments and diagnostics. These instruments are able to accurately measure the radiation produced by applications, such as nuclear medicine and nuclear power plants.
Some common types of radiation produced are alpha particles (helium nuclei), beta particles (electrons), gamma rays and neutrons.
These types of radiation are measured by a variety of specialized instruments, for example Geiger counters, scintillation detectors and neutron detectors. Nuclear techniques based on neutron activation or backscattering are one of the few available techniques for non-intrusive identification of explosives, the only common component of all types of landmines.
The IAEA physics programme not only helps Member States select, operate and maintain the instruments appropriate to their nuclear activities, it also provides hands-on instrument maintenance training at the national, regional and interregional level through Technical Cooperation projects.
Without this assistance, many instruments could become inoperable, and the corresponding benefits of nuclear technology would be lost.
A distance-learning maintenance programme is also being developed, as well as quality assurance in maintenance of instrumentation, to meet the demands of Member States.