Cosmic Ray (Muon) Detector using Fluorescent Tubes

This project was deliberately aimed at developing a very low cost cosmic ray detector using common Fluorescent Tubes. It was based on variation of an experiment performed in 2000 by the CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) laboratories by Dr. Schmeling which found a simple method for detecting and visualizing cosmic rays using everyday fluorescent tubes inside a wire mesh of feed with a high voltage.

There is a link here at the Teachers CERN Website at the bottom of their page, unfortunately there is little/no information about how this actually works.

However one of the very best websites I have found on working Fluorescent Tube cosmic ray detectors is www.astroparticelle.it if you are interested in this type of design you could do no better.

I have now begun building a number of other types of detectors due to a number of issues I've identified in experiments using Fluorescent Tubes.

Issues using Fluorescent Tubes

I have been testing a number of different design variations and have identified the following issues.

1) Power supply requires good filtering and regulation - Completed High Voltage Regulated Power Supply
2) Tubes vary in voltage requirements from one tube to another even between the same make, model and age
3) Oscillation is a problem as the supply voltage and/or coupling plate surface area increase
4) Internal filament electrodes must be insulated, even loose coupling increases oscillation and spurious pulses
5) Coupling plates should be positioned back 1cm from the tip of the internal filament electrodes
6) Oscillation occurs as the circuit forms a basic relaxation oscillator

Although oscillation is an unwanted artifact, it would also seem there is a point before oscillation begins where the tube increases sensitivity to radiation as the voltage increase and approaches a point where oscillation begins. However, radiation (cosmic or terrestrial) is also what first triggers the tube to jump into an unstable state before free oscillation begins.

Nevertheless, I will investigate this further to see how oscillation could be regulated through some form of negative feedback or quenching circuit as this may yield useful results.

Compton Scattering
Tests using a Geiger–Müller array detector have revealed a problem which will equally effect fluorescent tubes detector called Compton Scattering, this is where an interaction between charged electrons within the detector and high energy photons result in the electron being given part of the energy, causing a recoil effect of a high energy photon into the adjacent detector causing a false coincidence detection. In other words this causes cross-talk interference between Detector Tubes