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Project TitleNanocrystalline Optically-based Neutron Irradiation History Sensor
Track Code2010-086
Short Description

Researchers at the University of New Mexico have developed a novel method of optical detection of thermal neutrons.

Abstract

Researchers at the University of New Mexico have developed a novel method of optical detection of thermal neutrons. This technology is based on a novel concept for combining neutron detection and retrieval information about the level and timing of thermal neutron exposure that may have occurred prior to recovery of the data stored by a miniature, nanocrystal-based sensor.

 
TagsNeutron Detection, optical, radiation, dosimeter, detector
 
Posted DateMar 22, 2011

Researcher

Name
Gennady Smolyakov
Marek Osinski
Nathan Withers

Manager

Name
Briana Wobbe

Background

Standard detectors of slow neutrons rely on the 10B(n, α), 6Li(n, α), or 3He(n,p) reactions. The most common detector based on the boron reaction is a BF3 gas tube. Boron-loaded scintillators are also used, although they encounter the challenge of discriminating between gamma rays backgrounds and gamma rays due to neutrons. Using 6Li isotope requires enrichment of 6Li isotope, which increases the cost of the scintillators in which 6Li is embedded. The thermal neutron cross section for the 3He(n,p) reaction is 5330 barns, but its natural abundance of only 0.0001% results in even higher cost than 6Li. A further problem with all of these neutron detection methods is the need for active electronics to detect the particle emitted from the nucleus that has absorbed a neutron thus increasing size, cost, and danger of compromising the mission if used for clandestine activities. Additionally, some applications may benefit from the availability of miniaturized monitors of thermal neutron exposure, which are currently not available.

Technology Description

Researchers at the University of New Mexico have developed a novel method of optical detection of thermal neutrons. This technology is based on a novel concept for combining neutron detection and retrieval information about the level and timing of thermal neutron exposure that may have occurred prior to recovery of the data stored by a miniature, nanocrystal-based sensor.

Advantages/Applications

Benefits:

  •  Low cost due to the small size of the nanocrystalline sensor
  •  Insensitive to gamma irradiation
  •  Reduces likelihood of false alarms
  •  Detection of high-level exposure by simple visual inspection
  •  Positively impacts national security by prevention of smuggling operations of nuclear materials, combating terrorism and monitoring treaty compliance

Applications:
  •  Covert cargo monitoring
  •  Clandestine facility investigation
  •  Neutron radiation monitoring devices in the vicinity of reactors
  •  Miniaturized neutron detectors mounted on mobile robotic or remotely controlled platforms
  •  Inexpensive, portable neutron dosimeters with an easy, fast visual readout in case of very high exposure
  •  Neutron radiography

INQUIRES

STC has filed intellectual property on this exciting new technology and is currently exploring commercialization options. If you are interested in information about this or other technologies, please contact Arlene Mirabal at amirabal@stc.unm.edu or 505-272-7886.

Files

File Name Description
8,680,469 Issued Patent None Download

Intellectual Property

Patent Number Issue Date Type Country of Filing
8,680,469 None Utility United States