This paper explores the prospect of CMOS devices to assay lead in drinking water, using calorimetry. Lead occurs together with traces of radioisotopes, e.g., 210Pb, producing g-emissions with energies ranging from 10 keV to several 100 keV when they decay; this range is detectable in silicon sensors. In this paper we test a CMOS camera (OXFORD INSTRUMENTS Neo 5.5) for its general performance as a detector of X-rays and low energy g-rays and assess its sensitivity relative to the World Health Organization upper limit on lead in drinking water. Energies from 6 keV to 60 keV are examined. The CMOS camera has a linear energy response over this range and its energy resolution is for the most part slightly better than 2%. The Neo sCMOS is not sensitive to X-rays with energies below ~10 keV. The smallest detectable rate is 40 ± 3 mHz, corresponding to an incident activity on the chip of 7 ± 4 Bq. The estimation of the incident activity sensitivity from the detected activity relies on geometric acceptance and the measured efficiency vs. energy. We report the efficiency measurement, which is 0.08(2)% (0.0011(2)%) at 26.3 keV (59.5 keV). Taking calorimetric information into account we measure a minimal detectable rate of 4 ± 1 mHz (1.5 ± 0.1 mHz) for 26.3 keV (59.5 keV) g-rays, which corresponds to an incident activity of 1.0 ± 0.6 Bq (57 ± 33 Bq). Toy Monte Carlo and Geant4 simulations agree with these results. These results show this CMOS sensor is well-suited as a g- and X-ray detector with sensitivity at the few to 100 ppb level for 210Pb in a sample.
Keywords: X-ray detection; commercial CMOS cameras; dosimetry; gamma detection; lead in drinking water; lead-210; scientific CMOS sensor; world health organisation.