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A Scintillation Detector model 905 produces a pulse of light that is converted to an electric pulse by a photomultiplier tube (PMT). The PMT consists of a photocathode, a focusing electrode, and 10 or more dynodes that multiply the number of electrons striking at each dynode. A chain of resistors typically located in a plug-in tube base assembly biases the anode and dynodes. Complete assemblies including the scintillator and PMT are available.

The properties of a scintillation material required to produce a good detector are transparency, availability in large size, and large light output proportional to gamma-ray energy. Few materials have good properties for detectors. Thallium-activated sodium iodide and cesium iodide crystals are commonly used, as well as a wide variety of plastics. CsI(Tl) and plastics have much faster light decay times than NaI(Tl) and are primarily used for timing applications.

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