Positron-Emission-Tomography (PET) - Medical Applications

Description: Students calibrate and use scintillation detectors to understand the basic principles of Positron-Emission-Tomography (PET) and locate a positron source (Na-22).

Before taking part in this experiment, students should already know about

  • positrons, annihilation, E=mc2, rest mass of electrons / positrons E=511 keV, positron emitters ("beta-plus decay")
  • energy conservation, momentum conservation
  • scintillators and photomultipliers (optional)
  • energy spectra of radioactive sources, Compton scattering (optional)

What students will learn: 

  • how to calibrate scintillation detectors and how to interpret the energy spectrum of a radioactive source 
  • what coincidence measurements are and how they are used in PET

Link to CERN physics: CERN's expertise focuses on particle accelerators, detectors and computing. However, many important diagnostic and therapeutic techniques have been developed from fundamental research results. One example of medical applications of particle physics is Positron-Emission-Tomography. 


Availability: Can be included in the S'Cool LAB Days at CERN itinerary.

Minimum age: 17

Recommended age: 17-19 

Safety note: Due to the use of radioactive sources (74 kBq Na-22), pregnant women and students younger than 16 are not allowed to take part in this experiment.

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