Compact Fast Neutron Detector

STFC is seeking companies interested in novel improvements in fast neutron detection. Current fast neutron detectors lack the ability to acquire data over a wide range, require a complex setup process and are under threat due to the lack of availability of helium-3. This technology provides a simple, compact and scalable fast neutron detector allowing neutron spectrum determination over a wide range (1MeV to 1000MeV). The technology may be built in variable shapes like cuboids or tetrahedrons that have multiple detection planes depending on the specific application.


Radiological and Nuclear Monitoring; Space and Aviation Cosmic Ray Detection; Medical; Environmental Surveys; Material Science.


• The compact and singular setup allows portability and use in all applications that require measurement of a neutron field unlike Bonner Sphere Spectrometers.

• The device through the virtue of its detector setup and algorithms, allows complete spectrum resolution through a single exposure.

• The detector offers flexibility in the number of detector planes that may be used by employing a variety of shapes ranging from cuboids to tetrahedrons.


Neutrons being neutral particles are not directly detectable electronically. However, various fields of science and technology such as atmosphere survey, nuclear energy, etc. desire characterisation of spectral information of neutron fields. Existing neutron detector technology uses a plurality of spherical detectors each of which include thermal detectors surrounded by moderator walls of varying thickness. These systems are large and heavy and not singular in setup, thereby limiting its usage.

STFC’s new neutron detector uses a single compact but scalable setup of variable shapes like cuboids or tetrahedrons that have multiple detection planes encompassed in a converter of a similar shape. The external converter converts the energy of impacting neutrons into electronically detectable forms such as photons, alpha particles or other heavier particles, etc. which then travel inwards to fall upon one or more of the semiconductor detector surfaces. These semiconductor diodes can be adjusted for increased responsiveness or increased resolution by varying the thickness of their detection surfaces.

The semiconductors in response to the incident particles produce output electronic signals. These signals are conveyed to a control unit such as a PC, through a plurality of channels allocated on the basis of a cumulative or non-cumulative algorithm. The control unit defines and processes the various channels on simultaneity and strength of signals. Thus through careful manipulation of the signals, a spectrum of the neutron field is generated from a single exposure.

Patent Information:
Country Serial No.
United States 14/233,677
China ZL201280035627X
Germany 12748517.5
France 12748517.5
Sweden 12748517.5
United Kingdom 12748517.5
Japan JP2014-520731
For Information, Contact:
Liam Brennan
STFC Innovations
05.e. Meteorology/Climatology
05.f. Physics
09.c. Electronic measurement systems
10.a. Safety & Security
10.b. Environment