Current R&D Projects
Radiation Detection Technologies is always looking for innovative ways to push the envelope in the Radiation Detection industry. Here is what RDT is currently working on:
Neutron Radiation Identifier – NRID
NRID is an advanced, highly capable, handheld instrument (<10lbs), specifically proficient in differentiating fission sources from alpha-n radiation sources and providing accurate dose measurement. The NRID is the only handheld instrument capable of identifying (differentiating) and localize a neutron emitting source by neutrons alone. A special feature of the NRID technology is to be the most accurate neutron dosimeter to protect radiation workers, warfighters, and security personnel. NRID implements innovative technology to improve situational awareness of neutron radiation environments and fills technological gaps, as well as be complementary to, existing radiation detection equipment.
X-DSMSND: A Neutron Camera with Integrated Pixel Read-Out
X-DSMSND is a 2-dimensional (2D) thermal-neutron detector array coupled with a Timepix3 ASIC readout technology, that will allow instrument scientists and users at the neutron scattering facilities to perform high spatial-resolution neutron imaging experiments, overcoming current detector limitations associated with systems. Such an instrument would constitute a leap in advancement as the smallest direct-read semiconductor neutron-detector imaging array to date. The neutron-imaging device has direct applications in many areas of science and engineering, such as high-resolution neutron radiography/tomography, neutron diffraction studies for stress/strain measurements in materials with internal defects, and surface diffraction studies of coatings.
Cadmium Zinc Telluride (CZT) Semiconductor
The success of this project will be the significant reduction (>3x) of industrial-grade material costs by increasing the yield, reducing the growth time, and eliminating post-growth anneal treatments currently used by industry.
NeuRover: Rover Enabled Neutron Energy Detector for Lunar Resource Mapping
NASA requests a high spatial-resolution, wide-area scan of lunar soil composition, which may contain useful materials such as He-3 and H2O. Orbiting neutron spectrometer instruments are limited to spatial resolution in the 100’s of km2. The innovation being developed is a small-mass, low-power, Segmented Neutron Energy Spectrometer (SNES) for Mapping of Sub-Surface Lunar water content that can be supported by a micro-sized rover. The SNES technology will provide a viable semiconductor-based neutron detector instrument for remote lunar soil moisture determination CONOPS.
Discrete 3-D Electronics for Mobile Radiation Detection Systems
RDT is developing methods and technologies to overcome the limitations imposed by 2-dimensional (2-D) printed circuit board (PCB) electronics that restrict the footprint size and volume for radiation detector readout electronics. 3-dimensional (3-D) printing techniques can reduce size, weight, and power (SWaP) of complete electronic architectures to support physical design flexibility in mobile detection systems for the purposes of remotely investigating areas or targets of radiological interest. These additive manufacturing processes are enabling discrete electronic components to be placed in 3-D orientations in a functional circuit which allows tighter packing of circuitry and also provides greater flexibility in trace routing and sizing which may improve control over parasitic capacitance and inductance – as significant difficulty in the performance of analog signal processing and power systems for radiation detection. The advantage of additive manufacturing is enormous regarding mobile‐detection system integration, where many unique components must be packed as tightly as possible, in a small portable package. The technology developed can construct fieldable electronic assemblies that enable gamma‐ray spectroscopy and neutron counting in very small form factor and are designed to fit in irregular spaces within a mobile detection instrument.
Microstructured semiconductor neutron detectors (MSNDs) represent a low-cost, high-efficiency means of solid-state thermal neutron detection. Trenches are etched into a pn-junction diode and backfilled with 6LiF neutron converting material. Neutrons absorbed within the conversion material produce charged particle reaction products that interact within the semiconductor substrate and generate electron-hole pairs. The electron-hole pairs are collected by the applied bias, generating an electronic pulse and indicating a neutron event. Presently, single-sided MSNDs performance is approaching the theoretical maximum detection efficiency, with devices nearing 35% intrinsic thermal-neutron detection efficiency. Single-sided MSNDs are limited in their detection efficiency due to neutron streaming between the trenches; incident neutrons will pass through the semiconductor substrate without detection. Dual-side microstructured semiconductor neutron detectors (DS-MSNDs) alleviate this issue with an additional set of trenches etched into the backside of the diode. Neutrons streaming through the first set of trenches can be absorbed in the second set of trenches. Careful design of DS-MSNDs can allow for detection efficiencies exceeding 70% for a single 1-mm thick detector.