With a budget of under $2000USD, would it be possible for an undergrad student to build a muon scatter detector (drift tubes or another method)?


This paper on arXiv seems to be exactly what you're looking for, so the answer appears to be a resounding yes.

The design uses an inexpensive plastic scintillator and a silicon photomultiplier for light collection, and the total cost per detector is claimed to be around $100 which, as far as I can tell, is very plausible.

That being said, the detector itself is not the only thing you'd need. At the very least, you'd need the electronics necessary to read the detector output and some software (which you could probably write by yourself) to interpret those readings. You'd also need to calibrate the thing, which might take additional resources unless you have ready access to well-characterized radioactive sources. This would take a bit of extra money, but I can't imagine it'd be even close to your stated budget of $2000.

  • $\begingroup$ This is for just a detector, but the question was geared towards scatter detection, which is a little more involved. Please correct me if your answer includes scatter detection. $\endgroup$ – Ja Di Aug 10 '18 at 4:02
  • $\begingroup$ @JaDi I'm not familiar with that terminology. Can you describe what you'd like to use the detector for so I get a better idea? $\endgroup$ – J. Murray Aug 10 '18 at 4:13
  • $\begingroup$ @JaDi - Exactly what do you want to do? Does the detector have to be a "scatter detector", which I have no idea what it is but from your question I assume is related to a drift chamber in construction. How about a cloud chamber? If you just want to see muon tracks, they apparently work well. ( exploratorium.edu/exhibits/cloud-chamber ). $\endgroup$ – user93237 Aug 10 '18 at 4:21
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    $\begingroup$ It is worth noting that the each of the things mentioned in the second paragraph (readout electronics; analysis software; and characterization and calibration) is generally as large a problem as the physical build. $\endgroup$ – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Aug 10 '18 at 8:15
  • $\begingroup$ @dmckee I definitely agree. A large part of my research work as an undergrad was to calibrate our brand new $4\pi$ NaI detector and it was no joke! $\endgroup$ – J. Murray Aug 10 '18 at 12:13

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