Date of Award

Spring 2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Micro and Nanoscale Systems

First Advisor

Chester Wilson


Small scale radiation detectors sensitive to alpha, beta, electromagnetic, neutron radiation are needed to combat the threat of nuclear terrorism and maintain national security. There are many types of radiation detectors on the market, and the type of detector chosen is usually determined by the type of particle to be detected. In the case of fissionable material, an ideal detector needs to detect all four types of radiation, which is not the focus of many detectors. For fissionable materials, the two main types of radiation that must be detected are gamma rays and neutrons. Our detector uses a glass or quartz scintillator doped with 10B nanoparticles to detect all four types of radiation particles. Boron-10 has a thermal neutron cross section of 3,840 barns. The interaction between the neutron and boron results in a secondary charge particle in the form of an alpha particle to be emitted, which is detectable by the scintillator.

Radiation impinging on the scintillator matrix produces varying optical pulses dependent on the energy of the particles. The optical pulses are then detected by a photomultiplier (PM) tube, creating a current proportional to the energy of the particle. Current pulses from the PM tube are differentiated by on-chip pulse height spectroscopy, allowing for source discrimination. The pulse height circuitry has been fabricated with discrete circuits and designed into an integrated circuit package. The ability to replace traditional PM tubes with a smaller, less expensive photomultiplier will further reduce the size of the device and enhance the cost effectiveness and portability of the detector.