Apex-Alpha - CANBERRA Industries

Apex-Alpha - CANBERRA Industries
Radiation Safety. Amplified.
Alpha Spectroscopy
Software Suite
& Defense
Labs and
Industrial and
•• Comprehensive operation and management
software for the production-oriented alpha
spectroscopy lab
•• Distributed multi-user functionality for access to
system resources from any client workstation
•• A sample database that tracks batches of
samples through log-in, counting and final data
review/approval processes
•• Intuitive tools for easy creation of sample batches
with associated counting and analysis procedures
•• Flexible and automated energy and efficiency
calibration facilities
•• Extensive quality assurance capability for
scheduling of QA checks, failure identification and
response and data trending
•• Single screen data review and advanced
reanalysis facilities
•• Comprehensive event logging with flexible recall
•• Integrated security system with different levels of
access to system functions
•• Genie™ 2000 spectroscopy software core
provides well established algorithms for analysis
of spectral data
•• Supports manual alpha spectrometers and
provides complete computer control of
CANBERRA’s Alpha Analyst™ Spectrometers
•• Built-in tools to facilitate interfacing to external
LIMS systems
•• Windows® 7 and Server 2008 support
•• Archive, Delete & Restore functionality
•• ISO11929 support
Apex-Alpha™ is the ultimate alpha spectroscopy software
package for automating detector set-up and calibration, quality
assurance, sample analysis and reporting activities in large or
small alpha spectroscopy laboratories. This software package
brings the productivity gains to alpha spectroscopy that the Apex®
Lab Productivity Suite has brought to gamma spectroscopy for a
number of years.
With Apex-Alpha, the complete status of your alpha spectrometers
is available at a glance. Click – and find all the batches waiting
to be counted. Log samples into the system from any location
where the information is known, such as from the radiochemistry
laboratory or other sample log-in area. Let Apex-Alpha enforce
your calibration/QA schedules and monitor QA results – and
automatically take the appropriate action if something goes wrong.
Alpha spectroscopy typically has specialized requirements for wet
chemistry and sample preparation prior to counting. The quality
of the sample prep plays a large role in determining the quality
of the end results of sample analysis. Apex-Alpha handles the
requirements for tracers, reagent blanks, spikes, etc. with ease
and can accommodate the counting, statistical analysis and
quality assurance associated with any of these sample analysis
methods that may be in use at your laboratory.
Apex-Alpha – Alpha Spectroscopy Software Suite
The key to Apex-Alpha lies in the extensive database built
directly into the software. As batches of samples are logged
into the system, a batch/sample database record is created
which stays in the system as the sample moves through various
stages of processing – counting, first and second data review,
recounting (if necessary), final results and any follow-up inquiry.
Built on modern relational database technology, Apex-Alpha
gives you a complete view of what is going on in your lab with
quick, reliable answers to questions such as: How many samples
await processing? Which samples await data review? Which
samples were counted in alpha chamber 3, with a Pu in water
matrix, and came from customer x in the last 30 days? These are
all easy questions for Apex-Alpha.
A typical system may have several workstations located within
the lab counting area, one or more in sample receiving areas for
sample log-in and additional workstations in the supervisor or
analyst’s office for data review. This flexibility provides optimum
information access and system control – the capability you need
exactly where you need it.
Groups of alpha spectrometers are controlled by dedicated
client computers as determined at installation time – or a single
client can control all the spectrometers – but all clients may
have access to all batches/samples in the system for spectral
review and analysis. This dedication of groups of spectrometers
to specific clients for acquisition control makes most efficient
use of computer and network resources while still allowing any
client on the network to check the status of a count or perform
data review.
Client/server systems may have the database and application
software on the same server for a two-tier configuration or on
different servers for a three-tier configuration. This flexibility
allows the user to place the database on a corporate server
outside of the lab for routine back-ups while keeping the
Apex-Alpha application on another server closer in proximity
to the clients it supports.
Apex-Alpha is designed on a multi-user, client/server model.
Networked workstations allow you to operate from anywhere in
the system (Figure 1).
Figure 1.
Apex-Alpha Network Architecture.
Apex-Alpha – Alpha Spectroscopy Software Suite
For laboratories with only a few spectrometers, or those
that do not require multiple computer access to their alpha
spectroscopy system, a Desktop version of Apex-Alpha is
available (Figure 1). All of the Desktop Apex-Alpha software,
including an embedded SQL Server® 2008 database, resides
on a single computer. The Desktop version is capable of
operating up to 48 alpha spectrometers. The hardware can be
any combination of Benchtop Alpha Analyst systems or manual
spectrometers up to a total of 48 inputs or a single, fully
populated 48-input Floor Cabinet Alpha Analyst system.
Regardless of which configuration is chosen, Client/Server or
Desktop, the same acquisition, analysis and quality assurance
tools are provided. Both configurations offer the advantage
of the established SQL Server relational database for efficient
data storage, retrieval and interface to other applications such
as Microsoft® Visual Basic®, Excel and Access.
Figure 2.
Batch Editor Screen.
Until now, a sample was not typically “known” to the counting
system until the moment it was placed in the alpha chamber.
With Apex-Alpha, samples can be logged into the system at
the moment the requisite sample information is available – and
from any location. Place a client workstation in the sample
receiving/preparation area, and you can log samples directly
into the system as a batch as they are prepared. In many
cases, this can eliminate the need for a paper-based sample
information sheet. Other users will find a simple, customized
interface that allows download of sample lists directly from
computerized Laboratory Information Management Systems
(LIMS). In either case, Apex-Alpha can eliminate manual
processing of records, dramatically reducing transcription and
data entry errors.
The batch editor screen has check boxes to specify which
special samples will be included in the batch: Laboratory
Control, Tracer Blank, Duplicate or Matrix Spike. You can also
select the duplicate equation to be used for comparison of a
duplicate QA sample to the original if one is present: Relative
Percent Difference, Relative Error Ratio or Normalized Absolute
Difference. The Default Sample Metrics feature allows the user
to enter a sample amount, a control amount and an external
recovery or tracer amount. The screen also includes optional
parameters available via the Correction Factors button for:
Systematic Error, Random Error, Generic Multiplier (x) and
Generic Divisor 1/x factors. If these factors are selected, they
are used as multipliers in the activity calculation.
To efficiently manage a number of unknown samples and
any associated quality assurance samples being counted at
the same time, all the samples are grouped into batches and
managed in that mode. With the batch creation utility (Figure 2),
you simply point and click to create a new batch or edit an
existing one for the new samples. You can also view counted
batches in read-only mode.
To begin counting, just drag and drop the batch of samples
into the desired available chambers. The Load Samples and
Start Count sequence will immediately guide the user through
the sample loading process, changing the color code of the
chamber icons as they are assigned their samples to count.
Figure 3 shows that placing a batch of six samples on the icon
for the first available alpha chamber automatically assigns the
batch to the next six available chambers in a single step and
changes their icon colors.
In create batch mode, the batch editor screen provides a quick
way to enter information about the samples to be included in
the batch as well as the number of unknowns. The first page of
the screen asks for generic information about the batch, and
the second page allows the information entered in page one to
be modified for each individual sample as necessary.
Figure 3.
Drag and Drop Batch Loading.
Apex-Alpha – Alpha Spectroscopy Software Suite
Apex-Alpha employs the industry-leading Genie 2000 core
components for analyzing spectra, creating analysis libraries
and certificate files, and monitoring various sample preparation
and detector/chamber related parameters for quality assurance
•• The Tracer ROI can automatically be given a different color
from any other ROIs during acquisition. This allows visual
and immediate recognition of the tracer in the acquiring
•• Various MDA calculation algorithms are selectable and
editable as necessary. Available algorithms include the
Currie, KTA, and ISO 11929 methods with editable constant
and multiplier where appropriate. Custom MDA calculations
are supported via the Script engine in order to comply with
any customer specific requirements.
•• In the event of a power or network outage or other
spectrometer communications related problem, several
disaster recovery features are provided including:
Analysis features include:
•• Regions of Interest (ROI)-based analysis
•• Tracer and tracer-less quantitative analysis
•• Alpha chamber background correction
•• Reagent/tracer blank correction
•• Interactive peak fit
•• Library driven peak locate
– Auto spectral back-up to a back-up file at certain
intervals during a count.
The following highlights some of the capabilities of Apex-Alpha
that make it intuitive and flexible for counting and analyzing
samples whether hundreds of samples are processed per day
or just a few on an occasional basis. These are features that will
likely be used routinely to make the most efficient and effective
use of available counting time and equipment.
– Reconnect feature after a network communication failure.
– Choice to reload a spectrum from back-up and continue
counting, continue counting with whatever spectrum is
in place for the chamber or abort the count and start over
after interruption of a count.
•• Display Groups allow the user to select specific
combinations of chambers to be displayed together for
a quick visual check of counts in progress – up to twelve
spectra may be viewed at a time. If the group is larger than
twelve chambers, one mouse click pages from one set of
twelve to the next set.
•• Batch information contains a sample type reference. This
allows for easy retrieval at a later time when searching for a
specific type of sample. A sample type can be a customer
or project name, or it can represent a sample point,
location, etc.
•• The Chamber Names are customizable. They can be
a sequential code, such as 001, 002, …, assigned
automatically by the system or can be changed to
something more meaningful.
•• A count rate alarm is available to provide an alert to possible
recoil contamination of the detector. This allows the user
to increase the distance between the detector and sample,
increase the air pressure in the chamber or take some other
laboratory specific precaution to lessen the possibility of
detector contamination.
•• Samples can be analyzed at any time during a count
allowing the user to change acquisition times based on the
initial results before the preset time is reached. Acquisition
times can be extended for better statistical results with low
level samples or shortened for increased sample throughput
with hotter samples. Similarly, a count can be extended
after the preset count time is reached if more time is needed
to improve results.
•• Instead of a preset count time, a preset “Tracer Peak
Area” can be used to stop acquisition after a statistically
significant number of counts have been acquired in the
tracer region of interest.
•• Creation of ROI files is easy. These files include predefined
regions of interest for the peaks expected in a specific
sample type. Assignment may be automatic or manually
performed by the user, and the ROI limits for the isotopes of
interest may be extracted directly from a nuclide library.
Another major Apex-Alpha feature is the full automatic
energy and/or efficiency calibration (Figure 4). The automatic
energy and efficiency calibration only requires that the
calibration source is loaded in the counting chamber and the
corresponding source certificate information is available to
the system. Apex-Alpha will count the source and execute the
energy, shape and/or efficiency calibrations. No user interaction
is required once the process is initiated! Review options are
available, and manual interaction (add, remove or edit a data
point) is also supported. The calibration results can also be
tracked as part of the lab quality assurance program with
automatic transfers of the results to the QA database.
Figure 4.
Energy/Peak Shape Calibration Review Screen.
Apex-Alpha – Alpha Spectroscopy Software Suite
If a user attempts to count in an alpha chamber with an
overdue energy or efficiency calibration, Apex-Alpha can either
log the error, warn the operator or prevent counting in that
chamber entirely (as specified by the system administrator).
This capability assures that only chambers/detectors that
are properly calibrated can be used for counting production
samples and eliminates the need for a separate, external
calibration log to maintain the calibration records.
Quality assurance is critical to alpha spectroscopy in that the
accuracy of results is dependent upon both meticulous sample
preparation as well as the actual counting of the sample. This
means that sample preparation checks must be performed
in addition to the traditional detector background, efficiency
and energy checks that are done with gamma spectroscopy
Instead of having these various parameters monitored
externally, Apex-Alpha has the ability to automatically monitor
all of them within its own quality assurance module. Figure 5
shows how to select data for QA reports based on detector/
chamber parameters or on sample chemistry parameters
including the matrices and elements of choice. The QA
Summary Report provides an overview of a particular QA
parameter of interest for a user selected group of counting
chamber(s) and time frame. Figure 6 shows an example
summary report with the results of an energy calibration check.
Figure 6.
Energy Calibration QA Summary Report.
Standard Chamber (or detector) oriented QA parameters that
can be monitored include:
•• Energy, shape and/or efficiency calibration check
•• Background check
•• System background
•• Pulser check
•• Energy calibration
•• Efficiency calibration
The QA file is linked to the serial numbers of PIPS® detectors
in use in the alpha spectrometers. This allows the detectors to
be swapped in and out of the counting chambers over time but
continue to be monitored by the QA module whenever they are
installed in the chambers.
Standard Sample oriented QA parameters that can be
monitored on a per element/matrix basis as appropriate include:
•• Laboratory Control Sample (LCS) recovery
•• Duplicate Sample recovery and difference from primary
•• Tracer Blank recovery
•• Tracer recovery
•• Matrix Spike recovery
•• Sample specific (track sample results over time)
Figure 5.
QA Report Selection Screens – Chamber and Chemistry.
Apex-Alpha – Alpha Spectroscopy Software Suite
The quality assurance module does much more than just
collect, report and trend QA data. It can prevent sample
counting in a suspect chamber if a QA check is overdue or if
QA check results for the chamber are outside of acceptable
boundaries as determined by the system administrator.
The administrator has three options at his disposal depending
on the severity of a particular QA violation. If a QA count
is overdue or if QA check results are outside of either the
Investigate Level or Action Level as determined by an n-sigma
test, any one of these actions can be taken before a sample is
•• Lock Chamber: The QA violation is written to the database. Further sample counting is prevented in the
chamber until a new QA count has been performed,
analyzed and the chamber has been manually placed back
online by an authorized user.
•• Warning: The QA violation is written to the database, and
a warning is displayed. The user is given the option of
counting the sample anyway.
•• Log Failure: The QA violation is written to the database, but
no further actions are taken.
Figure 7.
Data Review Search Screen.
Once the sample is found, all the necessary count information
is presented on a single screen (Figure 8). At that point, an
operator with proper privileges has the option of approving the
results or reanalyzing the sample should that be necessary.
Special attention has been given to the way the user can
manipulate the ROIs in the spectrum. ROIs can be adjusted
individually or all shifted to the right or left together. Or, if there
is a need to extend the left side of the all ROIs to accommodate
low tailing, this is possible in a single operation as well.
It is not unusual for a hundred or more alpha spectroscopy
samples to be counted in a single day in the larger production
laboratories. This creates monumental amounts of data that
must be readily accessible at all times for final approval once
the counting and initial analysis is complete. The data must
also be available long-term for audits or re-evaluation long
after the initial sample analysis has been archived. Apex-Alpha
is unique in the way it handles counting data as compared to
previous generations of alpha spectroscopy software. Instead of
storing bits and pieces of information in various individual files,
Apex-Alpha is driven by a relational database. This software
design provides for easy storage and retrieval of calibration, QA
and sample data whether the count of interest was performed
today, a week ago or any time in the past.
Another key feature of Apex-Alpha is its simple, but powerful,
interface for locating the data you need. The extensive database
filters in the data review search engine (Figure 7) make it very
easy to narrow down the search criteria and find the desired
information instantaneously.
Figure 8.
Data Review/Approval Screen.
Once approved, Apex-Alpha has built-in tools to simplify the
export of results into computerized Laboratory Information
Management Systems (LIMS) or other databases. Again, there
is no need for a paper system or manual retyping of data into a
separate database. This interface capability saves valuable time
and eliminates transcription errors.
Apex-Alpha – Alpha Spectroscopy Software Suite
For verifying and correcting results as needed – even years
after the initial count – and controlling access to critical parts
of the system, you can rely on Apex-Alpha’s event log and
security system.
The security system is easy to maintain as personnel enter
or leave employment at the laboratory – just add or remove
users to/from the appropriate groups. Also, any privilege
can be assigned to any group at the discretion of the system
administrator for maximum flexibility. There are no hard-coded
hierarchies of privileges built into the security system, so the
administrator is free to set up the system any way he sees fit.
The ability to retrieve information, retrace steps, review history
– at any time – is very important to lab operations. Whether for
the purposes of performance review or determining how many
samples might have been impacted if a problem is found in
the lab, rapid and complete information retrieval can save
huge amounts of time and money. Apex-Alpha automatically
logs every event into a database table. Every log-on/off,
sample count, calibration, QA check, data review, etc. is
recorded and can be recalled whenever needed.
Apex-Alpha provides database archiving functionality to help
reduce the size of the database. Records can be archived
to a backup database, deleted from the primary database,
and restored back to the primary database when necessary.
Archive functionality is limited to users only with acceptable
security privileges. (See Figure 10.)
Data and system security is a hallmark of all CANBERRA
application software. Apex-Alpha is certainly no exception,
and its security capability is both extensive and flexible.
The system administrator plans the security set-up by
determining the numbers of different classes of operators
there are and the functions that should be assigned to each
class. Each class can consist of any number of individual
users from a single sample approver to a number of count
room technicians.
A group profile is created for each class using the Security
Set-up editor (Figure 9). Once the groups have been
established and privileges assigned to each one, individual
users can then be assigned to the appropriate groups. Each
user has a log-in password, and all activities performed
while a user is logged on are associated with that user in the
Figure 10.
Archive Screen.
Figure 9.
Security Set-up Screens.
Apex-Alpha – Alpha Spectroscopy Software Suite
Apex-Alpha Desktop:
•• Windows 7 Professional 32-bit or 64-bit.
•• Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Express Edition (included),
SQL Server 2005 Express also supported.
•• Ethernet 10/100 interface.
•• Multi-core processor.
•• 2 GB of system memory.
•• 1024 x 768 or higher-resolution video adapter and monitor.
•• 80-GB hard disk.
S770C Apex-Alpha Desktop License
•• Requires Genie 2000 packages.
Apex-Alpha Server:
•• Windows 7 Professional 32-bit or 64-bit, or Windows
Server 2008 32-bit or 64-bit.
•• Microsoft SQL Server 2005 or 2008 – any Edition except
Express (licensed separately).
•• Ethernet 10/100 interface.
•• Quad-core or higher processor.
•• 4 GB of system memory.
•• 1024 x 768 or higher-resolution video adapter and monitor.
•• 250-GB hard disk.
Apex-Alpha Client:
•• Windows 7 Professional 32-bit or 64-bit.
•• 600-megahertz (MHz) 32-bit (x86) processor.
•• 2 GB of system memory.
•• Multi-core processor.
•• 40-GB hard disk.
S771C Apex-Alpha Server License
•• Requires Genie 2000 packages and Microsoft SQL
Server 2005 or 2008 – any Edition except Express
(licensed separately).
S772C Apex-Alpha Client License
•• Requires Genie 2000 packages (or S520).
S775C Apex-Alpha Desktop/Genie 2000 Package
•• Includes Genie 2000 packages.
S775M Apex-Alpha/G2K Desktop Migration Package
•• Requires existing Genie 2000 licenses listed above plus the S570C Alpha Analyst Control Software which is also
included in Model AASW-G2.
•• Includes updates to Genie 2000 media.
Recommended Option: 7400-SRC Mixed Alpha
Standard Source
•• For Calibration and/or QA.
•• Base certificate information for this source is already
loaded into Apex-Alpha to make set-up easier if this
source is used.
All Apex-Alpha computers require the following minimum
versions of Genie 2000 Spectroscopy Software:
•• S500 Basic Spectroscopy Multi-Input Software – Minimum
Version 3.3.
•• S509 Alpha Analysis Software – Minimum Version 3.3
(or higher).
•• S505 Quality Assurance Software – Minimum Version 1.3.
•• S506 Interactive Peak Fit Software – Minimum Version 1.3.1.
•• S520 Genie 2000 Multi-Input, Right to Copy (To copy the
above software to an additional computer).
Apex, PIPS, Apex-Alpha, Alpha Analyst and Genie are trademarks
and/or registered trademarks of Mirion Technologies, Inc. and/or
its affiliates in the United States and/or other countries.
* Performance is enhanced with better computer
resources – particularly memory.
©2017 Mirion Technologies (Canberra), Inc. All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2017 Mirion Technologies, Inc. or its affiliates. All rights reserved. Mirion, the Mirion
logo, and other trade names of Mirion products listed herein are registered trademarks or
trademarks of Mirion Technologies, Inc. or its affiliates in the United States and other countries.
Third party trademarks mentioned are the property of their respective owners.
C40930 - 03/15
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