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Future of Semiconductor Based Thermal Neutron Detectors

R.J. Nikolic, C.L. Cheung, C.E. Reinhardt and T.F. Wang
Lawrence Livermore National Lab, US

Keywords:
thermal neutron detector, high aspect ratio etching, pillar

Abstract:
Thermal neutron detectors have seen only incremental improvements over the last decades. In this paper we overview the current technology of choice for thermal neutron detection – 3He tubes, which suffer from, moderate to poor fieldability, and low absolute efficiency. The need for improved neutron detection is evident due to this technology gap and the fact that neutrons are a highly specific indicator of fissile material. Recognizing this need, we propose to exploit recent advances in microfabrication technology for building the next generation of semiconductor thermal neutron detectors for national security requirements, for applications requiring excellent fieldability of small devices. We have developed an innovative pathway taking advantage of advanced processing and fabrication technology to produce the proposed device. The crucial advantage of our Pillar Detector is that it can simultaneously meet the requirements of high efficiency and fieldability in the optimized configuration, the detector efficiency could be higher than 70%.

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