Lithium Harnessed for Neutron Detection

Organization: SMART Laboratory, Kansas State University, Saint-Gobain Crystals, Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA)
Co-Developer(s): Douglas S. McGregor, Principal Developer, SMART Laboratory, Steven L. Bellinger, SMART Laboratory, Niklas J. Hinson, SMART Laboratory, Michael R. Kusner, Saint Gobain Crystals, Michael R. Mayhugh, Saint Gobain Crystals, Walter McNeil, SMART Laboratory, Be
Year: 2014

2014 R&D 100 Winner As the need to monitor radioactive materials grows, so does the market for detectors capable of quickly and reliably finding them. However, this demand may be thwarted by a shortage of raw material and rising prices. Traditional neutron detectors, for example, rely on helium gas, which has suffered from interruptions in supply in recent years. Fortunately, lithium foil technology has progressed rapidly thanks to the battery industry, and this metal is reasonably priced.

Scientists at the Kansas State Univ.’s SMART Laboratory and Saint-Gobain Crystals have capitalized on the availability of 6Li (lithium) to produce Lithium Foil Neutron Detectors that offers equivalent or better detection efficiency compared to present-day helium (3He) detectors. The detector design, called a multi-wire proportional counter (MWPC), utilizes the suspension of multiple thin 6Li foils between anode banks to create a high-efficiency, large-area, low-cost, gas-filled neutron detector. They have similar gamma-ray rejection, comparable compactness, and presently have up to an order of magnitude lower cost, which should appeal to users who require them in nuclear security, scientific experiments or petroleum searches.

Technology Neutron detectors

DevelopersKansas State Univ. SMART LaboratorySaint-Gobain CrystalDefense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA)

Development Team

 [[{"fid":"158297","view_mode":"default","fields":{"field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":266,"width":400,"class":"media-element file-default"}}]]
Kansas State Univ. SMART Laboratory's Lithium Foil Neutron Detectors development team (l-r): Niklas Hinson, Steven Bellinger, Douglas McGregory, Kyle Nelson and Benjamin Montag.









 [[{"fid":"158302","view_mode":"default","fields":{"field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":276,"width":300,"class":"media-element file-default"}}]]
Saint Gobain Crystals' Lithium Foil Neutron Detectors development team (l-r): Mike Kusner and Mike Mayhugh.









Walter McNeil, formerly at Kansas State Univ. SMART Laboratory Hank Zhu, Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA)














The Lithium Foil Neutron Detectors Development Team Douglas S. McGregor, Principal Developer, SMART LaboratorySteven L. Bellinger, SMART LaboratoryNiklas J. Hinson, SMART LaboratoryMichael R. Kusner, Saint Gobain CrystalsMichael R. Mayhugh, Saint Gobain CrystalsWalter McNeil, SMART LaboratoryBenjamin W. Montag, SMART LaboratoryKyle A. Nelson, SMART LaboratoryHank Zhu, Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA)