P.R. Bell's Lead Collimator (early 1950s)


This lead collimator was donated by P. R. Bell who described it as the first one to be constructed for a medical scanner.

Bell, who worked for most of his career at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, invented along with Walter Jordan the A-1 amplifier, and was the first to demonstrate that anthracene crystals could be used as scintillation detectors. Bell has even been referred to as the founder of scintillation spectrometry. During the 1960s, he served as the manager of NASA's Lunar Receiving Laboratory, and oversaw the analysis of the moon samples.

Bell is sometimes described as one of the father's (admittedly there are many) of nuclear medicine for his contributions to the development of the radioisotope scanner. The latter was used to locate medically administered radioisotopes in the body. A key, perhaps the key, component of a medical scanner was the collimator which served as a focusing device. With a collimator in place, the detector only responded to radiation emitted from the part of the body being "aimed" at.

This particular collimator was made from one hundred and seven sheets of lead which, were folded to produce 3" long hexagonal channels. The channels, each of which was wider at one end than the other, were glued together to form the collimator. Believe it or not, Bell also produced a collimator of solid gold! The early 1950s was a time when Atomic Energy Commission funding flowed like water.

Size: 3" tall, 1 3/8" diameter at "top" and 2 3/4" diameter at bottom

Donated by P. R. Bell.