An important part of knowing what type of detector to use is to have an idea of how and where it will be used.  Different applications and settings call for different types of detectors, as each detector type has various ways it can be specialized to fit a role. The applications for radiation detection instruments can be broadly categorized into a few different core tasks: measurement, protection, and search.

Radiation measurement tasks are for situations where there is a known presence of radioactive materials which need to be monitored. The goal with this type of detection is awareness. Awareness of the strength of an established radioactive field, the boundaries of a radioactive area, or simply of the spread of radioactive contamination. These are settings where the presence of radiation is expected, or at least considered likely. The requirements for detectors involved in these settings are unique, often with relatively higher measurement ranges or with modifications needed to specifically look for one type of radiation.

Radiation protection is similar to radiation measurement applications in the sense that it is usually in a setting where radiation is expected to be found. However, the goals are different. With radiation measurement settings, the goal is to monitor the radioactivity itself, to be aware of fluctuations, boundaries, etc. With radiation protection, the goal is monitoring people. Radiation dosimetry is the most common example of this, with radiation badges being worn by medical personnel, nuclear industry workers, and many other occupationally exposed workers all over the world.  The importance of this is that it provides protection from the most harmful effects of radiation exposure through awareness, in that a wearer can keep informed of how much radiation they’ve been exposed to, and how that corresponds to potential health effects, and alter their behavior or position or schedule accordingly.

Radiation search differs from the other two basic categories of radiation detection applications in that it is predicated both on the fact that radiation is not expected in the area, and the desire to keep things that way. Primarily the goal of radiation security personnel, first responders, or groups such as customs & border inspectors, radiation search has a different set of requirements to mirror the significantly different circumstances in which it takes place. Detectors need to be highly sensitive, with the concern being more about smaller, concealed radioactive sources or materials. Spectroscopy is often very helpful as well, since it is typically a small subset of radioactive isotopes that are of concern, and being able to filter those out that are present due to legitimate reasons such as medical treatment or just an accumulation of a naturally occurring radioactive substance is important.

These three categories, and the varying tasks that fit inside them, help determine what the best type of instrument or detector is best suited for the task.

The instadose+ dosimeter helps Radiation Safety Officers (RSO) save time managing dosimetry programs (Know more of dosimeter)