Eu-doped strontium iodide single crystal growth has reached maturity and prototype SrI2(Eu)-based gamma ray
spectrometers provide detection performance advantages over standard detectors. SrI2(Eu) offers a high, proportional light
yield of >80,000 photons/MeV. Energy resolution of <3% at 662 keV with 1.5” x 1.5” SrI2(Eu) crystals is routinely
achieved, by employing either a small taper at the top of the crystal or a digital readout technique. These methods overcome
light-trapping, in which scintillation light is re-absorbed and re-emitted in Eu2+-doped crystals. Its excellent energy
resolution, lack of intrinsic radioactivity or toxicity, and commercial availability make SrI2(Eu) the ideal scintillator for
use in handheld radioisotope identification devices. A 6-lb SrI2(Eu) radioisotope identifier is described.
We report on the development of two new mechanically rugged, high light yield transparent ceramic scintillators: (1) Ce-doped Gd-garnet for gamma spectroscopy, and (2) Eu-doped Gd-Lu-bixbyite for radiography. GYGAG(Ce) garnet transparent ceramics offer ρ = 5.8g/cm3, Zeff = 48, principal decay of <100 ns, and light yield of 50,000 Ph/MeV. Gdgarnet ceramic scintillators offer the best energy resolution of any oxide scintillator, as good as R(662 keV) = 3% (Si-PD readout) for small sizes and typically R(662 keV) < 5% for cubic inch sizes. For radiography, the bixbyite transparent ceramic scintillator, (Gd,Lu,Eu)2O3, or “GLO,” offers excellent x-ray stopping, with ρ = 9.1 g/cm3 and Zeff = 68. Several 10” diameter by 0.1” thickness GLO scintillators have been fabricated. GLO outperforms scintillator glass for high energy radiography, due to higher light yield (55,000 Ph/MeV) and better stopping, while providing spatial resolution of >8 lp/mm.
Degradation of room temperature operation of TlBr radiation detectors with time is thought to be due to electromigration of Tl and Br vacancies within the crystal as well as the metal contacts migrating into the TlBr crystal itself due to electrochemical reactions at the metal/TlBr interface. Scanning Auger electron spectroscopy (AES) in combination with sputter depth profiling was used to investigate the metal contact surface/interfacial structure on TlBr devices. Device-grade TlBr was polished and subjected to a 32% HCl etch to remove surface damage and create a TlBr1-xClx surface layer prior to metal contact deposition. Auger compositional depth profiling results reveal non-equilibrium interfacial diffusion after device operation in both air and N2 at ambient temperature. These results improve our understanding of contact/device degradation versus operating environment for further enhancing radiation detector performance.
Breakthrough energy resolution, R(662keV) < 4%, has been achieved with an oxide scintillator, Cerium-doped Gadolinium Yttrium Gallium Aluminum Garnet, or GYGAG(Ce). Transparent ceramic GYGAG(Ce), has a peak emission wavelength of 550 nm that is better matched to Silicon photodetectors than to standard PMTs. We are therefore developing a spectrometer based on pixelated GYGAG(Ce) on a Silicon photodiode array that can provide R(662 keV) = 3.6%. In comparison, with large 1-2 in3 size GYGAG(Ce) ceramics we obtain R(662 keV) = 4.6% with PMT readout. We find that ceramic GYGAG(Ce) of a given stoichiometric chemical composition can exhibit very different scintillation properties, depending on sintering conditions and post-anneal treatments. Among the characteristics of transparent ceramic garnet scintillators that can be controlled by fabrication conditions are: scintillation decay components and their amplitudes, intensity and duration of afterglow, thermoluminescence glow curve peak positions and amplitudes, integrated light yield, light yield non-proportionality - as measured in the Scintillator Light Yield Non-Proportionality Characterization Instrument (SLYNCI), and energy resolution for gamma spectroscopy. Garnet samples exhibiting a significant fraction of Cerium dopant in the tetravalent valence also exhibit: faster overall scintillation decay, very low afterglow, high light yield, but poor light yield proportionality and degraded energy resolution.
Development of the Europium-doped Strontium Iodide scintillator, SrI2(Eu2+), has progressed significantly in recent years. SrI2(Eu2+) has excellent material properties for gamma ray spectroscopy: high light yield (<80,000 ph/MeV), excellent light yield proportionality, and high effective atomic number (Z = 49) for high photoelectric cross-section. High quality 1.5” and 2” diameter boules are now available due to rapid advances in SrI2(Eu) crystal growth. In these large SrI2(Eu) crystals, optical self-absorption by Eu2+ degrades the energy resolution as measured by analog electronics, but we mitigate this effect through on-the-fly correction of the scintillation pulses by digital readout electronics. Using this digital correction technique we have demonstrated energy resolution of 2.9% FWHM at 662 keV for a 4 in3 SrI2(Eu) crystal, over 2.6 inches long. Based on this digital readout technology, we have developed a detector prototype with greatly improved radioisotope identification capability compared to Sodium Iodide, NaI(Tl). The higher resolution of SrI2(Eu) yields a factor of 2 to 5 improvement in radioisotope identification (RIID) error rate compared to NaI(Tl).
TlBr radiation detector operation degrades with time at room temperature and is thought to be due to electromigration of Tl and Br vacancies within the crystal as well as the metal contacts migrating into the TlBr crystal itself due to electrochemical reactions at the metal/TlBr interface. X-ray photoemission spectroscopy (XPS) was used to investigate the metal contact surface/interfacial structure on TlBr devices. Device-grade TlBr was polished and subjected to a 32% HCl etch to remove surface damage prior to Mo or Pt contact deposition. High-resolution photoemission measurements on the Tl 4f, Br 3d, Cl 2p, Mo 3d and Pt 4f core lines were used to evaluate surface chemistry and non-equilibrium interfacial diffusion. Results indicate that anion substitution at the TlBr surface due to the HCl etch forms TlBr1-xClx with consequent formation of a shallow heterojunction. In addition, a reduction of Tl1+ to Tl0 is observed at the metal contacts after device operation in both air and N2 at ambient temperature. Understanding contact/device degradation versus operating environment is useful for improving radiation detector performance.
Device-grade TlBr was subjected to various chemical treatments used in room temperature radiation detector fabrication
to determine the resulting surface composition and electronic structure. Samples of as polished TlBr were treated
separately with 2%Br:MeOH, 10%HF, 10%HCl and 96%SOCl2 solutions. High-resolution photoemission measurements
on the valence band electronic structure and Tl 4f, Br 3d, Cl 2p and S 2p core lines were used to evaluate surface
chemistry. Results suggest anion substitution at the surface with subsequent shallow heterojunction formation. Surface
chemistry and valence band electronic structure were further correlated with the goal of optimizing the long-term
stability and radiation response.