Conference Covers All Aspects of Radiation

Nuclear medical imaging, space physics, and nuclear security systems to be among topics discussed

6 August 2008

October’s session of the IEEE Nuclear Science Symposium and Medical Imaging Conference—which this year includes the 16th biennial International Workshop on Room-Temperature Semiconductor X-Ray and Gamma-Ray Detectors—promises to be a lively one.

“Judging from the 2100 papers from almost 60 countries we’ve received,” says Uwe Bratzler, the event’s general chair, “we expect record attendance—nearly 3000 nuclear scientists, researchers, and engineers.” The conference, sponsored by the IEEE Nuclear and Plasma Sciences Society, is scheduled for 19 to 25 October in Dresden, Germany. Attendance always goes up when NSS-MIC is held in Europe, Bratzler says.

Papers in several of the conference’s 70 or more topic areas cover the historic opening of the world’s biggest physics project, the Large Hadron Collider, being inaugurated on 21 October by CERN (the European organization for Nuclear Research), in Geneva. (To read more about the Collider, read "CERN to Start Up the Large Hadron Collider. Now Here's How It Plans to Stop It" in the August edition of IEEE Spectrum). The inauguration ceremony is to be broadcast live at the Dresden conference. Other conference topics include research and applications in nuclear medical imaging, detectors and instrumentation for high-energy physics, space physics, environmental detection, nuclear reactor controls, nuclear security systems, complex radiation detector systems for physical sciences, and advanced imaging systems for biological and medical research.

In previous years, such advances as whole-body PET (positron emission tomography) scans and combined PET/CT (computer tomography) scans, the Nuclear Instrumentation Module and Computer Automated Measurement and Control standards, low-energy X-ray cargo scanners for homeland security, and NASA’s gamma-ray large-area space telescope have had their genesis in papers given at NSS-MIC, notes IEEE Life Fellow Ray Larsen, a member of the conference’s advisory board and chair of the IEEE Nuclear and Plasma Sciences Society’s conference policy committee. “The conference is a place where learning about cutting-edge work and discussing it can lead to more major advances in the future,” he says.

The Nuclear Science Symposium is devoted to the fundamentals and application of radiation detection, detector-signal processing, and methods and algorithms for processing the measured data in fields ranging from basic research to applications in industry and homeland security, according to Wolfgang Enghardt, chair of the medical imaging program. The program is dedicated to the use of ionizing radiation for diagnostic imaging in medicine, by far the widest application of radiation-detection technologies.

The International Workshop on Room-Temperature Semiconductor X-Ray and Gamma-Ray Detectors, held about every two years, focuses on the development of semiconductor radiation detectors for spectroscopy and imaging applications.

“The conference brings together people who work on fundamental research and people who apply this research in areas that affect the public [such as homeland security, early cancer detection, and cancer therapy] and with industrial partners who make the associated instruments and equipment,” Bratzler says. “And the conference gives them the chance to interact with each other in ways that lead to new advances.” The schedule includes as much time and as many opportunities as possible for participants, including those from different fields, to get together.

THREE FOR ONE The registration fee allows attendees into the three meetings and all joint sessions. The conference also features workshops, short courses, a session on technology transfer, and a large industrial program with an exhibition and seminars. Also planned are a job fair and an evening program hosted by IEEE Women in Engineering as well as an event for Marie Curie Fellows organized in cooperation with the European Union.

Bratzler says that when he first attended the conference in 1992 as a student, he was “overwhelmed by the conference’s high scientific standards and by the presence of the most famous experts” in his field. “As a student, it’s rare to find yourself interacting with Nobel laureates and other experts,” he says. “The NSS/MIC is really the highlight of the year for young nuclear scientists and engineers. But not just the young. Even now, I find it exciting.”

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