Diamond Thermal Neutron Detector

Lead Research Organisation: Queen Mary University of London
Department Name: Physics


Thermal neutrons are by-products of generating energy in nuclear power stations and from naturally occurring and artificially created radioactive sources. They are used in industry and medicine as a means to probe materials, and to initiate controlled nuclear reactions that in the case of Boron Neutron Capture therapy can treat cancer effectively. Neutrons are used and occur in a wide range of scientific applications. Being able to accurately and efficiently measure the presence of neutrons allows us to use thermal neutrons in a beneficial way, and to work to minimise radiation created in facilities.

Helium 3 is the element that has the highest probability of interaction with thermal neutrons, but it is expensive and supplies of this material are limited. Alternatives to Helium-3 based neutron detectors are required for the nuclear industry, security, scientific and medical research. This proposal seeks to make a new type of non-Helium-3 thermal neutron detector by merging the capabilities of an interdisciplinary team of researchers at Queen Mary University of London with that of the UK company Micron Semiconductor Ltd.


10 25 50
Description AWE Ltd 
Organisation Atomic Weapons Establishment
Department National Nuclear Security Programme
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Working on the development of a novel neutron detector.
Collaborator Contribution Partners have funded the development of device readout and simulation. This underpins technology refinements that have accelerated technology development.
Impact Outputs are being finalised in terms of publications and IP protection.
Start Year 2015
Description Micron Semiconductor Ltd (CVD Diamond) 
Organisation Micron Semiconductor
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Our team has developed technology for our organic neutron detector work with the AWE Ltd. that has the potential for us to merge Micron's CVD diamond to make a new type of neutron detector. We have partnered with MSL to explore ways to realise this new type of neutron detector.
Collaborator Contribution Our collaboration partner has so far provided an in kind contribution through provision of commercial (market) and technical information on products and applications. This has led to us being able to seek funding, where MSL has pledged a 100k in-kind contribution, AWE a 45k in kind contribution to go toward a product development programme. The outcome of that application will be known in June 2020.
Impact It is too early to report outputs from this new collaboration. We will record outputs under our next consolidated grant.
Start Year 2019
Description National Nuclear Laboratory 
Organisation National Nuclear Laboratory
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution My team and NNL have had 5 or 6 very productive in depth discussions about the usage of our technology for decommissioning activities. The company has learned about the capabilities our novel technology brings and is discussing those with some of its customer sites.
Collaborator Contribution We have developed a deeper understanding of the needs of industry and submitted applications for future CASE and NDA funded studentships. We have submitted a funding proposal with NLL as a partner, and for that submission we have a pledged in-kind contribution from the company.
Impact This collaboration covers physics and chemistry, and includes sub-fields of particle physics and condensed matter.
Start Year 2021