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Fabrication and characterization of novel boron and gadolinium rich power generation and real-time neutron detection materials and devices

Marcus L Natta, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


In this work, the neutron capture capabilities of two naturally occurring isotopes, gadolinium-157 (157Gd) and boron-10 (10B), were investigated for use as neutron detecting diodes. The appeal of using 157Gd and 10B is due to their large thermal neutron absorption cross sections: gadolinium (on average ∼46,000 barns) and boron-10 (∼3800 barns). ^ Boron carbide (B4C) films were grown on nickel, copper, silver, and aluminum substrates using plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) techniques forming p-n junctions using various configurations of two isomers: closo-1,7-dicarbadodecaborane (metacarborane) or closo-1,7-phosphacaborane (phosphacarborane) for the n-type layers and closo-1,2-dicarbadodecaborane (orthocarborane) for the p-type layer. These all-boron carbide heterojunction diodes were investigated experimentally, with highly sensitive current voltage measurements in light and dark and under alpha, beta, and neutron irradiation. The heteroisomeric diodes exhibited photovoltaic and alphavoltaic behavior and successfully functioned as neutron detectors. Preliminary results of beta radiation response of these heteroisomeric diodes is also presented. ^ The high-κ dielectric oxide, hafnium oxide (HfO2), was doped with gadolinium and grown on silicon using pulsed laser deposition (PLD) to form a novel semiconducting diode. Three levels of Gd-doping (3%, 10%, and 15%) were explored. A shift from the unstable monoclinic phase to the stable cubic phase is seen with increased Gd-doping concentrations, which may possibly serve as a better semiconductor. The detection of charge pulses created by neutron capture was explored using neutron sources from Nebraska Wesleyan University and The Ohio State University Research Reactor (OSURR) neutron sources. The 10% and 15% doped diodes exhibited pulse height spectra in the presence of neutrons. Electronic signal processing remains the most significant challenge for these latter detectors. ^

Subject Area

Engineering, Chemical|Engineering, Materials Science

Recommended Citation

Natta, Marcus L, "Fabrication and characterization of novel boron and gadolinium rich power generation and real-time neutron detection materials and devices" (2008). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3326861.