New scintillator design for thermal neutron detection

Lead Research Organisation: Brunel University
Department Name: Electronic and Computer Engineering

Abstract

Neutron detectors are used in various applications in nuclear security and nuclear safety. We are investigating the possibility of replacing 3He filled gas tubes with scintillation detectors. Furthermore, world-wide shortage of 3He gas and significant drawbacks of many 3He tube configurations, such as the high pressure gas in the tubes makes transport difficult, the high-bias voltage required, the stability of the system is generally poor, and the system is sensitive to microphonics. Therefore, a scintillator neutron detection system without the requirement of 3He will be very desirable. It has been found that using a thin film of doped semiconductor as a scintillator layer within a neutron detector apparatus provides certain benefits and improvements over existing technology.
This work will focus on the development of thin film of doped oxide (eg.ZnO) as a scintillator layer within a neutron detector for thermal neutron detection. This is typically done by designing and constructing small prototype detectors, experimentally determining the characteristics of these detectors mainly neutron detection efficiency, gamma sensitivity, intrinsic detector background, detector resolution and light collection efficiency and optimizing the design.

Publications

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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509437/1 30/09/2016 29/09/2021
2293536 Studentship EP/N509437/1 01/02/2019 31/01/2022 NADEERA HEMAMALI GUNARATNA MUDIYANSELAGE
EP/R512990/1 30/09/2018 29/09/2023
2293536 Studentship EP/R512990/1 01/02/2019 31/01/2022 NADEERA HEMAMALI GUNARATNA MUDIYANSELAGE
 
Description Under this project, we planned to build a prototype detector. For that, PCB design of the electronic circuit is roughly completed in 3 parts and 1st part of the PCB is printed and currently started to assemble components. And simulation activities of the response of different scintillation materials to neutron radiation (transport of incident neutrons and neutron induced charged particles) were completed using FLUKA/FLAIR software and comparison with experimental works are yet to be done. The preparation of spherical phosphor Y2O3:Eu3+ , Gd2O3:Eu3+ and Li6Gd(BO3)3:Eu3+ particles as scintillator materials are underway.

Note: Research was basically focused on preparing Gd doped ZnO scintillator material using the sputtering techniques that is available in ETC facility in the university and testing it for neutrons in laboratory/field condition. Due to university closure for current COVID-19 global pandemic situation, we were unable to access the university laboratories and other facilities (outside of the university) from March 2020 to December 2020 (9 months). Therefore, we slightly changed the materials and preparation techniques to adjust the project for current situation and currently focus on the preparation of Y2O3:Eu3+, Gd2O3:Eu3+, GdB5O9:Eu3+ and Li6Gd(BO3)3 :Eu3+ for testing with the neutrons.
Exploitation Route This award is still active and final outcome of this project will leads to continue the research on engineering low cost, light weight scintillator materials for neutron detectors as alternative materials to 3He.
Sectors Education,Electronics