Undergraduate student placement at Mirion Technologies

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Fraser Holloway (2017 graduation)
Fraser Holloway and his Mum at graduation 2017

Every year as part of our relationship with Mirion Technologies (Canberra UK) Ltd, the Department of Physics sends one of our undergraduates to their offices at Harwell to undergo a 10-week placement.  Mirion Technologies (Canberra UK) Ltd is one of the UK’s leading suppliers of instrumentation for a diverse range of applications in the nuclear industry.

Fraser Holloway, who graduated with a 1st Class Physics with Nuclear Science BSc degree in July, was selected for the 2017 scheme. As part of the placement, Fraser studied how to optimise the algorithms used in the multi-peak deconvolution of low statistics gamma-ray peaks in high resolution gamma-ray spectra from their Gaseous Activity Monitoring (GAM). The GAM systems are being deployed in advanced gas-cooled reactors operated by EDF Energy Generation Ltd. across the country. As a result of his research, Mirion Technologies have a means of reducing the uncertainty in measurements of the concentration of 133Xe in the reactor coolant gas – a key radioactive fission product used to monitor the health of the reactor fuel assemblies.

Fraser was also able to augment the existing suite of gamma-ray spectrum acquisition and analysis software used by Mirion by creating several Python front-ends to allow the batch analysis of gamma-ray spectra (for use in his work on the GAM project), parameter extraction and conditional time-lapse collection from high resolution germanium detectors. Fraser hopes that he has left Mirion with some useful tools with features that will aid Mirion in future work. Working with the service department Fraser was given access to a wide array of detectors, MCAs and cooling systems from Canberra’s product line for characterisation and maintenance.

Colin Wilkins, The Mirion UK Physics Team Manager was Fraser’s mentor during his time at Harwell was highly impressed with Fraser’s abilities: “Fraser settled in almost immediately and very quickly began to make a real contribution in a number of areas. Everyone he came into contact with commented on his willingness to help wherever he could. I hope he got as much from his time with us as we got from him and that his experiences working with Mirion will be helpful to him in his future career”.

Fraser hopes that the hands-on experience, understanding of electronics and Python coding will provide insight for the research included in the PhD he will begin in October as part of the STFC funded LIV.DAT Doctoral Training Centre.