Detectors and sensors

lphys2102  2019-2020  Louvain-la-Neuve

Detectors and sensors
Note from June 29, 2020
Although we do not yet know how long the social distancing related to the Covid-19 pandemic will last, and regardless of the changes that had to be made in the evaluation of the June 2020 session in relation to what is provided for in this learning unit description, new learnig unit evaluation methods may still be adopted by the teachers; details of these methods have been - or will be - communicated to the students by the teachers, as soon as possible.
5 credits
22.5 h + 7.5 h
No prerequisites for students who have obtained a Bachelor's degree in physics and who therefore already have knowledge of the energy loss of particles in matter and a basic knowledge of semiconductor physics and PN junction.
Main themes
- Study of basic techniques used in physical measurements : temperature, pressure, force, ...
- Study of the detection of ionizing radiations.

At the end of this learning unit, the student is able to :


a.     Contribution of the teaching unit to the learning outcomes of the programme (PHYS2MA)


AA1: 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.6

AA2: 2.2, 2.3, 2.5

AA5: 5.1

AA6: 6.1, 6.4,

AA7: 7.1, 7.3

AA8: 8.1,8 .2


b.    Specific learning outcomes of the teaching unit


At the end of this teaching unit, the student will be able to:


1. define the characteristics of the fundamental sensors used in physics,

2. Identify and explain the physical processes related to these sensors.

3. select the appropriate reading system for elementary sensors.

4. define the characteristics of a radiation detector and describe its mode of operation:

5. identify and explain the physical processes associated with these detectors.

6. use, in an operational manner, the different types of detectors / sensors described during the teaching unit.


The contribution of this Teaching Unit to the development and command of the skills and learning outcomes of the programme(s) can be accessed at the end of this sheet, in the section entitled “Programmes/courses offering this Teaching Unit”.
1. Sensor fundamentals.
2. Measurement bridges (Wheatstone, Nerst, Sauty, Maxwell, Hay).
3. Voltage and current.
4. Temperature, pressure, humidity, vacuum.
5. Position and motion sensors.
6. Velocity, flow rate (in fluids).
7. Force, strain, mechanical shock, accelerometers.
8. Optical sensors.
9. Acoustic sensors.

Radiation detection.
1. Counting statistics.
2. Radiation sources.
3. Radiation-matter interactions.
4. General characteristics of detectors.
5. Gas detectors.
6. Semiconductor detectors.
7. Scintillation detectors.
8. Neutron detectors.
9. Nuclear electronics.

1. Introduction to simulation codes SRIM and VGATE .
2. Cyclotron : Bragg peak measurement.
3. Geiger-Mueller : counting statistics,.
4. NaI and HPGe : Gamma spectrometry.
5. Surface barrier detector : Alpha spectroscopy.
6. Neutron detection.
7. Sensor readout with RaspberryPI and/or Arduino.
Teaching methods
This training has two activities:
1. Theory course and exercise sessions
- Lecture in audience
- Problem solving in audience
2. Mandatory practical work consisting of laboratories.
- Assembly and measurement
- Data analysis and report writing
All the material (syllabus, course slides, exercise lists, lab books, electronic components and tutorials for the simulation program) can be found on the MoodleUCL site of the teaching unit
Evaluation methods
The evaluation is based on:
- reports from the laboratories,
- a written exam,
- a personal project.
Partie capteurs :
Jon S. Wilson, Sensor Technology Handbook .
J. Fraden, Handbook of Modern Sensors.

Partie radiation :
G.F. Knoll, Radiation Detection and Measurement.
C. Grupen & B. Schwartz, Particle Detectors (2nd Edition).
Faculty or entity

Programmes / formations proposant cette unité d'enseignement (UE)

Title of the programme
Master [120] in Biomedical Engineering

Master [120] in Physical Engineering

Master [60] in Physics

Certificat universitaire de contrôle physique en radioprotection (Classe I)

Master [120] in Physics