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Title: Novel Materials and Devices for Solid-State Neutron Detection

There is a need in many fields, such as nuclear medicine, non-proliferation, energy exploration, national security, homeland security, nuclear energy, etc, for miniature, thermal neutron detectors. Until recently, thermal neutron detection has required physically large devices to provide sufficient neutron interaction and transduction signal. Miniaturization would allow broader use in the fields just mentioned and open up other applications potentially. Recent research shows promise in creating smaller neutron detectors through the combination of high-neutron-cross-section converter materials and solid-state devices. Yet, till recently it is difficult to measure low neutron fluxes by solidstate means given the need for optimized converter materials (purity, chemical composition and thickness) and a lack of designs capable of efficient transduction of the neutron conversion products (x-rays, electrons, gamma rays). Gadolinium-based semiconductor heterojunctions have detected electrons produced by Gd-neutron reactions but only at high neutron fluxes. One of the main limitations to this type of approach is the use of thin converter layers and the inability to utilize all the conversion products. In this LDRD we have optimized the converter material thickness and chemical composition to improve capture of conversion electrons and have detected thermal neutrons with high fidelity at low flux. We are also examining differentmore » semiconductor materials and converter materials to attempt to capture a greater percentage of the conversion electrons, both low and higher energy varieties. We have studied detector size and bias scaling, and cross-sensitivity to xrays and shown that we can detect low fluxes of thermal neutrons in less than 30 minutes with high selectivity by our approach. We are currently studying improvements in performance with direct placement of the Gd converter on the detector. The advancement of sensitive, miniature neutron detectors will have benefits in energy production, nonproliferation and medicine.« less
Authors:
 [1] ;  [1]
  1. Sandia National Lab. (SNL-NM), Albuquerque, NM (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
1226121
Report Number(s):
SAND--2015-9923R
608082; TRN: US1500866
DOE Contract Number:
AC04-94AL85000
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Sandia National Laboratories (SNL-NM), Albuquerque, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
46 INSTRUMENTATION RELATED TO NUCLEAR SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY; THERMAL NEUTRONS; SEMICONDUCTOR MATERIALS; NEUTRON DETECTION; NEUTRON DETECTORS; NEUTRON FLUX; CONVERSION; GADOLINIUM; THICKNESS; CHEMICAL COMPOSITION; HETEROJUNCTIONS; DESIGN; IMPURITIES; LAYERS; MINIATURIZATION; PERFORMANCE; SENSITIVITY