Prof. Palee Mahawatte

Prof. Palee Mahawatte

Associate Professor

Head of the Department
Department of Nuclear Science,
University of Colombo,
Colombo 03,
Sri Lanka.
Work Phone: 0112158368


BSc ( Physics) Colombo
M.Sc( Nuclear Science) Colombo
MSc ( Applied Nuclear Physics) Birmingham

Teaching area

  • Applied Nuclear Science
  • Environmental Radiation
  • Nuclear Analytical Techniques
  • Health Physics
  • Radiation Protection
  • Detection and Measurement of Radiation

Research Interests

  • Natural Radioactivity
  • Nuclear Analytical Techniques

Awards and Grants

  • IAEA Fellowship ( 1984)
  • IAEA Research Grant ( 1995)
  • IDRC Project Funds from the UGC ( 2005)
  • President Research Award ( 2000)
  • President Research Award (2001)
  • Vice Chancellors award for excellence in research ( 2000/2001)
  • Long service award from University of Colombo for 25 years of dedicated Service ( 2006)
  • President Research Award (2006)

Visiting lecturer

  • Radiation Chemistry , Department of Chemistry , University of Sri Jayawardenapura
  • Nuclear Techniques , Department of Mining and Minerals Engineering. University of Moratuwa (1992 -1996)
  • Radio Chemistry , Institute of Chemistry Sri Lanka ( 1992- 1996)

Editorial work

Introduction to Radio Chemistry, Unit II , Inorganic Chemistry, Published by The Open University of Sri Lanka

Journal Articles

  1. Mahawatte, P., Hewamanna, R., Absolute alpha activity measurements of some plants growing in monazite bearing soils in Sri Lanka. (1991) Nucl. Tracks and Radiat. Measurements, Vol 19, Nos 1-4, pp775-779 (1991)
  2. Seneviratna, M. C. S. , Mahawatte, P., Fernando, R. K. S., Hewamanna, R., Sumithrarachchi, C. S. Study of air particulate pollution in Colombo using a Nuclear Related Analytical Techniques. J of Biological Trace Element Research. 71-72. pp 189-194 (1999)
  3. Hewamanna, R., Sumithrarachchi, C.S., Mahawatte, P., Nanayakkara, H.L.C., Ratnayake, H.C. Natural radioactivity and gamma dose from Sri Lankan clay bricks used in building construction J.Applied Radiation and Isotopes 54 , 365-369 (2001)
  4. Mahawatte, P., Dissanayaka K. R. , Hewamanna R. Elemental concentration of some Ayurvedic drugs using energy dispersive XRF J. of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry, 270. No 3 , 657-660, (2006)

Conference Papers

  1. Mahawatte, P., and Seneviratna, M. C. S. Measurement of trace elements in air borne Dust in Colombo City UNDP/RCA/IAEA regional workshop on Nuclear analytical techniques in environmental research and monitoring . Singapore. ( 1995)
  2. Krofcheck, D., Asadov, A., Gregory, M.,Mahawatte, P. Electronic Suppression of Background Radiation: Application to Interdisciplinary Questions in Environmental Radiation Studies, Proceedings of the Eighth Electronics New Zealand Conference, 2001
  3. Dissanayake, C. K., Mahawatte, P., Weerasekera, T.S.B., Abeynayake, K. Spatial Variability of Caesium-137 in Soil at two Reference Sites in Uma Oya Catchment , 10 th Anniversary International Symposium. Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka. July 2006
  4. Hewamanna, R., Mahawatte, P.Growth of Nuclear Analytical Techniques over Two Decades at the Department of Nuclear Science, University of Colombo. 10th Anniversary International Symposium Sabaragamuwa , University of Sri Lanka. July 2006
  5. Hewamanna R, Mahawatte P.Our experience with nuclear analytical techniques in environmental science, National symposium on Chemistry for life, Faculty of Applied Science , Rajarata University of Sri Lanka. May 2011
  6. Champa K Dissanayake, P Mahawatte, K. Abenayake and TSB Weerasekera, Use of Caesium-137 technique for the assessment of soil erosion in two selected sites in Uma Oya Catchment in Sri Lanka, 19th World Congress of Soil Science, Soil Solutions for a Changing World, 1-6 August 2010, Brisbane, Australia.

Research communications

  1. Mahawatte, P., Nanayakkara, E. S. A simple technique to distinguish between U and Th bearing minerals in the environment. Proceedings of Sri Lanka Association for the Advancement of Science. SLAAS (1988)
  2. Mahawatte, P. Measurement of radon and thoron activity concentration in a local environment. SLAAS (1989)
  3. Mahawatte, P., Nanayakkara, E. S. A study of the applicability of some common materials as diffusion barriers for radon and thoron. 15th International conference in particle tracks in solids. Marburg, FRG . (1990)
  4. Mahawatte, P. Hewamanna, R. Investigating the possibility of using the etch pit method to determine the absolute alpha activity of some plants growing in monazite bearing soils in Sri Lanka.SLAAS (1990)
  5. Mahawatte, P. Rathnayaka, H. Measurement of Ra-226 activity concentration of building materials in Sri Lanka. SLAAS (1993)
  6. Chithrani, B. D., Mahawatte, P. A study of the variation of track registration properties of CR-39 with humidity. Proc. of the 11th Annual Session of Institute of Physics in Sri Lanka. (1995)
  7. Sumithrarachchi, C. S., Mahawatte, P. Determination of Sr-90 in Milk Powder. SLAAS (1995)
  8. Seneviratna, M. C. S., Mahawatte, P. Multielement analysis of air borne dust .SLAAS (1996)
  9. Mahawatte, P., Seneviratna, M. C. S. Multielement analysis of air borne dust collected from some selected sites in Colombo District in Sri Lanka, International Symposium on Harmonization of Health Related Environmental Measurements using Nuclear and Isotope Techniques (1996)
  10. Fernando, R. K. S.,Mahawatte, P., Hewamanna, R., Sumithrarachchi, C. S.. Quality assurance of nuclear techniques in environmental studies. SLAAS (1997)
  11. Seneviratna, M. C. S. ,Mahawatte, P., Fernando, R. K. S., Hewamanna, R., Sumithrarachchi, C. S. Study of air particulate pollution in Colombo using a Nuclear Related Analytical technique. Proceedings of the international conference on Nuclear Analytical Methods in Life Sciences. Beijing, China 26th – 30th October 1998.
  12. Mahawatte, P. Barker, P.H. Elemental concentrations of aerosols collected from the environmental monitoring station at Glenbrook Steel Mill . 10th National New Zealand Institute of Physics Conference. 2001
  13. Vithanaarachchi, C.S.H.and Mahawatte, P. Measurement of 137Cs and 7Be in Soil. SLASS 2003
  14. Mahawatte, P. & Vithanaarachchi, C.S.H. Variation of the absolute efficiency of the HPGe detector as a function of the density of the sample. SLAAS 2004
  15. Abeyratne, M . Jayasingha, P. Hewamanna,R., Mahawatte P and M.D.S. Pushparani MDS Thermoluminescence dating of Paleo Tsunamis and or large storm laid sand deposits of a small estuary in Kirinda Southern Sri Lanka: A preliminary study Proceedings of the 23rd Annual Sessions of Geological Society of Sri Lanka. Feb 2007
  16. Fernando K.N.R., Mahawatte P. A feasibility study: Use of NaI(TI) detector for U, Th & K measurement in beach sand, SLAAS 2009.
  17. Mahawatte P., Fernando K.N.R. Radiation exposure levels in the coastal strip from Uswatakeyyawa to Chillaw, SLAAS 2009.


Unpublished Thesis Titles

  1. Variation of radioactivity of sand along the coastal strip of Sri Lanka 2. A study of diffusion properties of radon and thoron using solid state nuclear track detector

Completed M.Sc. Research Projects

  1. Discrimination of radon and thoron using CR-39 solid state nuclear track detector · Measurement of trace elements in airborne dust in Colombo city · A study on the effect of different floor and wall finishing on radon exhalation rates · Qualitative and quantitative analysis of metals in Ayurvedic drugs · Measurement of 7Be and 137Cs in soil · Baseline radioactivity levels of soil and grass in three selected sites · Radio nuclides in beach sand in the coastal strip from Uswatakeyyawa to Chillow. · U in sea water using alpha spectrometry

Organization of Conference , seminars, exhibitions and workshops

  1. Workshop on Radiation Protection for Medical Radiographers ( July 2010) in collaboration with SLAAS
  2. Workshop on Radiation Protection for Medical Radiographers ( July 2011) in collaboration with SLAAS

Departmental and University activities and responsibilities

  1. Coordinator, MSc in Nuclear Science
  2. Coordinator, Diploma in Radiation Protection
  3. Secretary , Departmental Committee.