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Staff Accomplishments

Commercialization success of small, sensitive radiation detector

June 2006
A chance meeting at a conference in Vienna in 1989 united Battelle's Steve Miller and Craig Yoder, senior vice president of Landauer, the world leader in providing personnel radiation monitoring services. Miller was presenting his research in Optical Stimulated Luminescence (OSL). Yoder, a former Battelle employee familiar with Battelle's dosimetry research, suggested a collaboration to commercialize the OSL technology. The collaborative research, much of which was done at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington, resulted in an innovative radiation detection technology. This palm-sized detector is used by medical radiology technicians, cancer treatment specialists, and others to measure the radiation they receive at the workplace. OSL is a radiation detection technique based on optical stimulation of solid-state materials with light to induce luminescence. Developed by Miller, the OSL technique has greatly improved the state of the art in gamma and beta radiation dosimetry. OSL is more sensitive than x-ray films and other technologies, is less expensive to manufacture, and can be read in 1 second. Collaboration leads to OSL commercialization Landauer began sponsoring research in OSL in 1990 under Battelle's 1831 Industrial Research Contract, which allows work to be done at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory for entities other than the U.S. Department of Energy. Landauer is highly respected for its expertise in accurate radiation dose assessments and has offices in the United States, Europe, China, Japan, and Brazil and generates $75 million in sales annually. "In the early '90s, several market developments were occurring in providing radiation monitoring services that revealed a need for Landauer to establish a proprietary method as one way to differentiate it from its competitors," Yoder says. Over the years, the relationship has paid off for both parties. "When we first started, the technology was very immature," Miller says. "It took three to four years, with significant funding and technical contributions from Landauer, before we really got to the point where we had a product. "As a result of the collaboration, OSL has become the method for the personnel radiation monitoring service provided by Landauer. The company began the commercial use of OSL in 1997. "Currently, OSL is used in 90 percent of our products and is the base technology that Landauer is using for its long-term strategic growth," Yoder says. Expanding into foreign markets OSL gave Landauer a path toward international growth and has had a key impact in several foreign markets. In Japan, Nagase-Landauer converted its film-based radiation monitoring service to OSL in 2000. "In response, our key competitor changed from film to glass dosimetry at the same time, and in 18 months, most of the Japanese market transitioned from film to OSL methods," Yoder says. "We are having a similar impact in France where the advantages of OSL are creating pressures for our competitors to make their own technological changes. Now OSL is used in Japan, UK, Canada, France, Peru, and Australia. We expect to add OSL to our subsidiaries in Brazil and China within the year, and we are in negotiations with laboratories in other countries." As for Battelle, "Our long-standing relationship with Landauer continues to be very profitable to Battelle's Pacific Northwest Division, bringing in over $2 million in research funding and more than $3 million in royalty income thus far," Miller says. For more information, contact Environment, Safety and Health Product Line Manager Kelvin Soldat.

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