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Instrument: Germanium detector


Germanium detectors are semiconductor diodes having a p-i-n structure in which the intrinsic (i) region is sensitive to ionizing radiation, particularly x rays and gamma rays. Under reverse bias, an electric field extends across the intrinsic or depleted region. When photons interact with the material within the depleted volume of a detector, charge carriers (holes and electrons) are produced and are swept by the electric field to the p and n electrodes. This charge, which is in proportion to the energy deposited in the detector by the incoming photon, is converted into a voltage pulse by an integral charge sensitive preamplifier. Germanium detectors are mostly used for gamma spectroscopy in nuclear physics, as well as x-ray spectroscopy.