The NPG, like all other publicly funded research groups, is encouraged by government to look for applications of its research.
The exploitation of research for the benefit of the UK economy and the good of society in general is known as knowledge exchange (link opens in a new window) and aims to make our innovations available through UK industry.
The main opportunities for knowledge exchange with nuclear physics research arise from the advanced instrumentation and sensitive detector systems demanded by the science. A good example is the AGATA project which depends on Compton camera principles for gamma ray tracking to reconstruct the path of a gamma ray through a detector. The same detector and instrumentation technology can be applied to build very sensitive Compton cameras for use in medical imaging, security and environmental monitoring.
Medical applications include PET and SPECT imaging where the Compton camera principle allows radiologists to detect more of the radiation emitted from the radiopharmaceuticals in the patient than conventional scanners. The result is either a reduced radiation dose for the patient or shorter scan times allowing more patients to be treated in a given time. Examples of this are the PNPAS-funded ProSPECTus novel SPECT imaging development and the MRC-funded SmartPET (link opens in a new window) project to develop a prototype small animal PET system.
Detecting radiation is useful for security reasons and for monitoring the environment. Many devices exist to do this. However, they only recognise that there is radioactivity in the vicinity; most can also identify the material using spectroscopy. Using the Compton camera principle allows the detection to go one stage further. Not only is the material identified, it is also located. Instruments using the Compton camera principle can indicate the direction and distance of the radioactive material. The PORGAMRAYS project is an example of such a project, funded by the TSB(DTI) and EPSRC with researchers from NPG at Daresbury and Universities of Liverpool and Manchester working with Technology division at RAL and industrial partners.
The group is open to discussions about new KE collaborations (industrial or academic) through which to exploit its instrumentation and research. Currently the NPG is initiating new projects aimed at improving medical imaging systems and we are interested in discussing other possibilities too. For more information about the NPG's knowledge exchange activity or to discuss potential KE partnerships please contact us.