Description: The Office of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Research and Development (NA-22) is focused on enabling the development of next generation technical capabilities for radiation detection of nuclear proliferation activities. As such, the office is interested in the development of radiation detection techniques and sensors, and advanced detection materials, that address the detection and isotope identification of unshielded and shielded special nuclear materials, and other radioactive materials in all environments. In responding to these challenging requirements, recent research and development has resulted in the emergence of radiation detection materials that have good energy resolution. From these materials, the developments of radiation detectors that are rugged, reliable, low power and capable of high-confidence radioisotope identification are sought. Currently, the program is focused on the development of improved capabilities for both scintillator and semiconductor-based radiation detectors. The objective of this topic is to gain insight into a mechanistic understanding of material performance as the base component of radiation detectors. That is, the program is interested in moving beyond the largely empirical approach of discovering and improving detector materials to one based on a clear understanding of basic materials properties.
b: Scintillator Based Radiation Detectors for Emergency Response
Description: We would like to support research on materials that will lead to practical high-brightness scintillators with energy resolution significantly better than the currently available sodium iodide-based gamma spectrometers. Several new and promising formulations have been discovered and synthesized in small quantities, but have not reached the level of commercial availability necessary to make an operational impact. The ideal scintillator for an emergency response handheld and-or backpack would have at least 50% higher resolution and would be sensitivity to thermal neutrons using pulse-height discrimination. A crystal larger than 50 mm by 50 mm would also be desired.
Phase I: Identification of a suitable detector material and demonstration of a lab prototype.
Phase II: The development of a commercial process for the growth and packaging of the material to make a portable radiation detector.
Description: In addition to the specific subtopics listed above, the Department invites grant applications in other areas that fall within the scope of the topic description above.