Experimental Astronomy

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 57–66 | Cite as

Feasibility and design of a solid state gamma-ray detector

  • Alan Owens
  • Ernst-Jan Buis
Original Article


For conventional radiation detectors fabricated from compound semi-conductors, the wide disparity between the transport properties of the electron and holes, means that detector performances are limited by the carrier with the poorest mobility-lifetime product (μτ). Finite drift lengths introduce an energy dependent depth term into the charge collection process, which effectively limit maximum detection volume to tens of mm3 – entirely unsuitable for the detection of gamma-rays. The recent introduction of the coplanar-grid charge-sensing techniques has overcome this problem by essentially discarding the carrier with the poorest transport properties, thus permitting high spectral resolution and high detection efficiency. For example, energy resolutions of 2% full-width half-maximum at 662 keV have been demonstrated with coplanar-grid CdZnTe detectors of volumes up to 2 cm3. Further improvements in detector performance and yield are being pursued through refinements in electrode design and material quality. Because coplanar-grid CdZnTe detectors can operate at room temperature, they are ideally suited for applications requiring portability, small size, or low power consumption such as planetary space missions. Other potential applications include well logging, medical diagnostics, and gamma-ray astronomy. We discuss the feasibility and design of a solid state gamma-ray detector based on CdZnTe and compare its performance to a large volume Ge detector. As will be shown, a significant improvement can be made if T1Br is used as the detection medium.


Gamma-ray spectroscopy Solid state devices Planetary science 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Office of Science Payload and Advanced Concepts, ESA/ESTECNoordwijkThe Netherlands
  2. 2.cosine Science and Computing BVLeidenThe Netherlands

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