Detection and Measurement of Radiation
Ionizing radiation is rarely detected directly. Instead, detectors usually measure the secondary products arising from the interactions of the radiation with the detector material. For example, as an alpha or beta particle traverses a detector's sensitive volume, electron-ion pairs or electron-hole pairs are created and the subsequent movement and collection of charges gives rise to an electrical pulse or current. Indirectly ionizing radiation such as gamma photons and neutrons must first undergo interactions in the detector material that produce secondary charged particles, recoil atoms or electrons that, in turn, produce charge pairs as they slow down.