Solid-State Neutron Detectors
Project Innovation + Advantages:
Texas Tech University will develop a new type of neutron detector for geothermal and well logging systems. The technology aims to efficiently expand exploration for oil, gas, and geothermal resources into areas with more extreme conditions. Texas Tech seeks to produce solid-state thermal neutron detectors based on 100% boron-10 enriched boron nitride wide bandgap semiconductors. The new product would replace the pressurized and cumbersome He-3 gas tube detectors. Texas Tech's project is enabled by their previous work developing epitaxial growth technology to produce low-cost, free-standing, single-crystal boron nitride semiconductor wafers 4 inches in diameter. When integrated into thermal neutron detectors, boron nitride promises high neutron detection efficiency and improved sensitivity while withstanding extreme temperatures. Boron nitride neutron detectors are more flexible while requiring much lower voltages and no pressurization compared with He-3 detectors, resulting in significantly reduced size and weight, more versatile form factors, faster response speed, improved sensitivity, higher reliability, and lower costs. This detector technology has the potential to improve efficiency and reduce costs for new energy materials exploration and extraction.