A Van de Graaff accelerator was installed at NPL in Teddington. It is an electrostatic generator used to accelerate a beam of particles at high speeds towards a target material, causing nuclear reactions which produce neutrons. Voltages of up to 3.5 MV are generated, providing beam energies of up to 3.5 MeV. A proton of this energy has a velocity of about a tenth of the velocity of light. The neutrons produced can be used to calibrate monitors used for radiological protection. The accelerator is still used for testing radiation monitoring instruments.
Today, radiation and radioactive isotopes have a variety of applications, and accurate measurement is fundamental to all of them. Our state-of-the-art facilities and equipment, coupled with our experienced staff, underpin the safety and effectiveness of applications that rely on radioactivity. Our work supports the routine use of nuclear power and the decommissioning of redundant nuclear plant, safeguarding the public and the environment. In nuclear medicine, we minimise the uncertainties associated with dose measurements, which is crucial to successful diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of diseases such as cancer.
NPL are experts in the measurement and characterisation of neutron radiation fields to ensure safety.
Discover more about NPL's work on Nuclear metrology