Toshiba's 'Portable Gamma Camera' Takes Snapshots of Radiation Hotspots

Toshiba has developed a radiation-sensing camera that overlays color-coded radioactivity measurements over visual images. The camera is a refined version of a similar concept tested and proven at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Toshiba may have dubbed this imaging device the “Portable Gamma Camera” but don't think you can tote one around in your back pocket: it weighs a hefty 9.8kg (21.6 lbs) and measures 380 x 110 x 241mm (15.2 x 4.4 x 9.64 inches). It's significantly smaller and lighter (by about half) than the brute used at Fukushima, however.

What ISN'T miniaturized is the device's sensitivity to radiation. In fact, the new Portable Gamma Camera boasts increased sensitivity as the levels of radiation it's expected to expose are far lower than those inside the crippled nuclear plant.

The device is a camera insofar as it can take photographs but that's where the resemblance ends. The on-board radiation sensor translates numerical readings into color-coded pixels (green to red; lowest to highest) and overlays the colors onto each photograph. There's also no film, disc or SD-card upon which to record the composite images, which are instead transmitted to a designated computer, laptop, tablet or other such display.

The images above are from the original device used at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant (left) and the new Portable Gamma Camera (right). The camera is designed with a 60° view angle and features 128 semiconductor detection elements that act as radiation sensors. Depending on local power supply availability, the camera can be hooked up to an AC100V power source or it can operate for up to three hours on fully-charged internal batteries.

Toshiba is working with the Fukushima municipal government to test the Portable Gamma Camera in a variety of locales through the balance of 2011, with the ultimate goal being practical use in the region beginning early in 2012. (via Asahi News, TechOn!, and Ex-SKF)