Date of Award

Spring 5-11-2012

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis


Physics and Astronomy

First Advisor

Christopher B. Winstead

Advisor Department

Physics and Astronomy


This work was conducted to develop a method for obtaining stable and reproducible photon count yields to be used in calculating a reliable value for alpha radiation-induced fluorescence efficiency in air. The basis for this experiment was the knowledge that alpha radiation causes the nitrogen in the earth’s atmosphere to fluoresce. Developing a fluorescence efficiency for alpha radiation is to quantify how efficiently the energy from alpha radiation causes nitrogen to emit photons in air. The experiment was conducted using highly controlled atmospheres of both air and nitrogen. This allowed for the experiment to determine how efficiently alpha radiation was able to induce fluorescence in air and in nitrogen. An air fluorescence efficiency and a nitrogen fluorescence efficiency was calculated in this experiment. The stable and reproducible data seen in this experiment shows that the experimental method developed is the most reliable method developed to date to determine alpha radiation-induced fluorescence efficiency.