The alpha particle is a helium nucleus produced from the radioactive decay of heavy metals and some nuclear reactions. Alpha decay often occurs among nuclei that have a favorable neutron/proton ratio, but contain too many nucleons for stability. The alpha particle is a massive particle consisting of an assembly of two protons and two neutrons and a resultant charge of +2. Alpha particles are the least penetrating radiation. The major energy loss for alpha particles is due to electrical excitation and ionization. As an alpha particle passes through air or soft tissue, it loses, on the average, 35 eV per ion pair created. Due to its highly charged state, large mass,
and low velocity, the specific ionization of an alpha particle is very high. Figure 1 illustrates the specific ionization of an alpha particle, on the order of tens of thousands of ion pairs per centimeter in air. An alpha particle travels a relatively straight path over a short distance. IC-
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The Instrumentation and Control Fundamentals Handbook was developed to assist nuclear facility operating contractors provide operators, maintenance personnel, and the technical staff with the necessary fundamentals training to ensure a basic understanding of instrumentation and control systems. The handbook includes information on temperature, pressure, flow, and level detection systems; position indication systems; process control systems; and radiation detection principles. This information will provide personnel with an understanding of the basic operation of various types of DOE nuclear facility instrumentation and control systems.
• Module 6 - Radiation Detectors
This module describes the principles of radiation detection, detector operation, circuit operation, and specific radiation detector applications.
• Module 7 - Principles of Control Systems
This module describes the principles of operation for control systems used in evaluating and regulating changing conditions in a process.
The information contained in this handbook is by no means all encompassing. An attempt to present the entire subject of instrumentation and control would be impractical. However, the Instrumentation and Control handbook does present enough information to provide the reader with a fundamental knowledge level sufficient to understand the advanced theoretical concepts presented in other subject areas, and to better understand basic system and equipment operations.