Scintillators are useful in handheld devices to identify illicit radioactive materials. The growing threat of nuclear security breaches underscores the critical role of these devices in detecting and identifying radioactive sources. Scintillators, the heart of these devices, convert incoming radiation into light signals, enabling material identification. Through a detailed review, the study explores the properties, advancements, limitations, and future potential of scintillator materials. Both traditional organic and inorganic scintillators, along with newer options, are evaluate base on factors like energy resolution, light output, decay time, and radiation resistance. The analysis focuses on performance characteristics like detection efficiency, gamma-ray identification capabilities, and background radiation rejection to determine the suitability of different scintillator materials for handheld radioactive source detection devices.


Scintillation detector is a deep-rooted technology that are special materials that would glow positively when hit by radiation, have been in existence centuries. The expanding availability of radioactive materials, coupled with the growing specter of their use as weapons, necessitates the development of ever-more-sophisticated detection and identification technologies. By putting the power of illicit radioactive source identification into easy-to-use handheld devices, first responders, law enforcement officers, and border security personnel now have a game-changing tool for rapid on-site threat assessment.

This paper focuses on two portable radiation monitoring systems developed using plastic scintillators. These systems, a walk-through portal monitor and a camouflage limb/pole monitor, are design to detect radioactive materials in both nuclear facilities and public areas. They work by detecting gamma rays emit from the materials.

Due to their simple design and small size, these scintillation detector systems are perfectly suited for widespread deployment in India, where there’s a strong emphasis on public monitoring. While metal detectors and neutron detectors can be used for complementary checks on shielded sources or materials emitting neutrons, these scintillation systems serve as the initial screening tool. If an alarm is triggered by a person or package, authorized personnel can then use handheld monitors for a more in-depth investigation.

These systems offer more than just immediate detection. They also continuously monitor background radiation levels and transmit the data for analysis, enabling long-term monitoring and the identification of radiation trends in the area.

The scintillation detectors exhibit beyond immediate threat detection. They gradually monitor background radiation, transmitting data for analysis. This enables long-term monitoring and identification of radiation trends in the area. It eliminates the redundancy and keeps the sentence clear and concise.


The biggest security concern lies with commercial radioactive sources containing high amounts of ionizing radiation. These sources are usually double-encapsulate in steel for safety, making them difficult to access without specialized knowledge.

Breaking open the casing could lead to serious health risks, with potential for permanent injury or even death from exposure to the unshielded material for extended periods. However, in dispersal scenarios, the immediate health effects beyond a few meters are likely minimal, and the contaminated area would be relatively small. This category includes sources used in various industrial applications, such as oil well logging and gauges for measuring levels, dredging, and conveyor belts.

If not properly handled or securely shielded, these sources could result in lasting harm to individuals who come into contact with them for a significant period. Exposure to this unshielded radioactive material for days to weeks could potentially be fatal. In scenarios involving dispersal, immediate health effects on individuals beyond a few meters would likely be minimal. The contaminate area requiring cleanup would probably be limit to a small portion of a square kilometer.


This review aims to elucidate the key aspects of scintillator materials, their properties, and their suitability for handheld detection devices. It also aims to safeguard steelworks from accepting radioactive materials, whether intentional or unintentional. This will be achieve by developing and testing highly sensitive detector systems. These detectors will be strategically place, either at the scrap entry point or within the steel plant itself.

The article will focus on several key aspects, like:

  • Selecting the most suitable detector types
  • Ensuring the detectors’ long-term reliability and durability
  • Optimizing the placement of multiple detectors for maximum effectiveness
  • Determining appropriate alarm thresholds to minimize false positives


The main objective is to prevent radioactive material either unauthorize or accidentally being accept by some steelworks. This will be done by developing and testing detector systems of high sensitivity. suitable for use either at the point of entry of the scrap or within the steel plant. Work needs to be done on the types of detector, the long-term reliability of detectors, their robustness, the optimization of deployment of multi-detector systems, and the choice of alarm thresholds.

This crucial study delves into the various methods for detecting illicit radioactive sources. It aims to bridge a critical gap. By creating a deployable system that fills the space between bulky Radiation Portal Monitors,  limited-range handheld devices. This innovative technology promises to enhance the state-of-the-art in detecting radioactive materials. Including shielded Special Nuclear Material (SNM), by achieving superior sensitivity.

While user-friendliness for emergency responders was readily address through collaboration. Achieving high sensitivity for shield SNM necessitates a meticulous evaluation of the system’s capabilities. To address this, a comprehensive set of performance requirements was establish in the first project phase (WP1). These requirements, including sensitivity to sources moving at walking speed, will enable the MODES SNM prototype to monitor both moving goods and static cargo, significantly increasing its operational versatility.


This research focuses on the properties of scintillators used in detecting illicit radioactive materials. It will identify the most suitable types of scintillators. And also explore their unique characteristics that make them effective for this purpose. The study will also delve into locations. Where such illicit radioactive sources are more likely to be encounter such as border regions.