5 September 2014 Review of current neutron detection systems for emergency response
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Abstract
Neutron detectors are used in a myriad of applications—from safeguarding special nuclear materials (SNM) to determining lattice spacing in soft materials. The transformational changes taking place in neutron detection and imaging techniques in the last few years are largely being driven by the global shortage of helium-3 (3He). This article reviews the status of neutron sensors used specifically for SNM detection in radiological emergency response. These neutron detectors must be highly efficient, be rugged, have fast electronics to measure neutron multiplicity, and be capable of measuring direction of the neutron sources and possibly image them with high spatial resolution. Neutron detection is an indirect physical process: neutrons react with nuclei in materials to initiate the release of one or more charged particles that produce electric signals that can be processed by the detection system. Therefore, neutron detection requires conversion materials as active elements of the detection system; these materials may include boron-10 (10B), lithium-6 (6Li), and gadollinium-157 (157Gd), to name a few, but the number of materials available for neutron detection is limited. However, in recent years, pulse-shape-discriminating plastic scintillators, scintillators made of helium-4 (4He) under high pressure, pillar and trench semiconductor diodes, and exotic semiconductor neutron detectors made from uranium oxide and other materials have widely expanded the parameter space in neutron detection methodology. In this article we will pay special attention to semiconductor-based neutron sensors. Modern microfabricated nanotubes covered inside with neutron converter materials and with very high aspect ratios for better charge transport will be discussed.
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Sanjoy Mukhopadhyay, Richard Maurer, Paul Guss, Craig Kruschwitz, "Review of current neutron detection systems for emergency response", Proc. SPIE 9213, Hard X-Ray, Gamma-Ray, and Neutron Detector Physics XVI, 92130T (5 September 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2058165; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2058165
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