Intellectual property patent status

A new ionisation chamber has been developed with an updated design that overcomes the limitations of comparable options on the market by increasing the sensitivity of ionisation radiation detection, whilst maintaining cost-effectiveness and accessibility. 

Ionisation chamber used in healthcare - a female medical medical technician wearing protective gear is holding up an x-ray.


Ionisation chambers provide a cost-effective way to detect ionising radiation. They are commonly used in environments where it is vital for the safety of workers to detect radioactive gas in the air, such as research and development laboratories, healthcare settings, and industrial settings.

However, due to the design of current options on the market, some ionisation chambers can suffer from background noise which can reduce accuracy and effectiveness when detecting harmful radiation in an environment.

There was a need to develop an ionisation chamber solution with increased sensitivity to improve safety, while keeping it cost-effective.

The solution

Developed by engineers at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), this new and improved ionisation chamber design unlocks a more enhanced detection of radiation with a higher level of sensitivity and reduced background noise, increasing the safety of personnel working in the environment where the technology is used to detect harmful radiation in the air. 

The new insulator design reduces current leakage, improving on the level of current leakage in other designs. Its features also include an improved design of the collection electrode and a decrease of susceptibility to mechanical vibrations. These developments enable trace radiation in air to be more sensitively monitored and overcome key limitations faced by other detectors, while still being a cost-effective solution. 

Key benefits

  • This technology has improved performance in reducing background noise due to its new design, with a:
    • Reduction in current leakage.
    • Reduction in chamber capacitance.
  • It has higher sensitivity for detecting radiation in the air (alpha, beta, gamma).  
  • This technology improves safety due to radioactive gas being measured at lower levels, enabling earlier detection and alarm.  
  • It is cost-effective to manufacture, with increased performance and accessibility.   
Two images of the new ionisation chamber, side by side. One demonstrates the chamber as part of a measurement system. The other is an artistic representation of the chamber.

Potential applications

This technology is applicable in environments where accurate detection of lower levels of radioactive gas in air (beta, gamma, alpha) is required:

Ionisation chamber nuclear application

Nuclear facilities

This technology helps to ensure personnel safety, with more sensitive monitoring of trace levels of radiation in the air.  

Healthcare settings

The protection of radiologists and other healthcare professionals can be improved in settings where ionising radiation is present. 

Ionisation chamber Radiologist
Ionisation chamber industrial

Industrial settings

This technology is also applicable in industrial settings where radiography is used for non-destructive inspection. 

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