Performance evaluation of neutron detectors incorporating intrinsic Gd using a GEANT4 modeling approach

Abstract

Solid-state neutron detectors from heterostructures that incorporate Gd intrinsically or as a dopant may significantly benefit from the high thermal neutron capture cross section of gadolinium. Semiconducting devices with Gd atoms can act as a neutron capture medium and simultaneously detect the electronic signal that characterizes the interaction. Neutron capture in natural isotopic abundance gadolinium predominantly occurs via the formation of 158mGd, which decays to the ground state through the emission of high-energy gamma rays and an internal conversion electron. Detection of the internal conversion electron and/or the subsequent Auger electron emission provides a distinct and identifiable signature that neutron capture has occurred. Ensuring that the medium responds to these emissions is imperative to maximizing the efficiency and separating out other interactions from the radiation environment. A GEANT4 model, which includes incorporation of the nuclear structure of Gd, has been constructed to simulate the expected device behavior. This model allows the energy deposited from the decay of the meta-stable state to be localized and transported, providing for analysis of various device parameters. Device fabrication has been completed for Gd doped HfO2 on n-type silicon, Gd2O3 on p-type silicon and Gd2O3 on SiC for validation of the code. A preliminary evaluation of neutron detection capabilities of these devices using a GEANT4 modeling approach is presented.

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Correspondence to Abigail A. Bickley.

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Bickley, A.A., Young, C., Thomas, B. et al. Performance evaluation of neutron detectors incorporating intrinsic Gd using a GEANT4 modeling approach. MRS Online Proceedings Library 1341, 403 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1557/opl.2011.1507

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