Next Generation Gamma/Neutron Detectors for Planetary Science.

Award Information
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Award Year:
Phase I
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Radiation Monitoring Devices, Inc.
MA, Watertown, MA, 02472-4699
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
James Christian
Principal Investigator
(617) 668-6800
Business Contact:
Nancy Marshall
Business Official
(617) 668-6810
Research Institution:

Gamma ray and neutron spectroscopy are well established techniques for determining the chemical composition of planetary surfaces, and small cosmic bodies such as asteroids and comets; however, new technologies with the potential to significantly improve the performance of planetary nuclear spectroscopy are emerging in response to demands in other fields such as homeland security. We propose to develop new gamma-ray and neutron detectors based on wide-band-gap solid state photomultiplier (SSPM) photodetectors coupled to emerging scintillation materials such as Cs2YLiCl6:Ce (CLYC), and CeBr3 for gamma and neutron spectroscopic studies of planet surfaces and small cosmic bodies. CLYC is most promising for neutron spectroscopy and can provide high efficiency detection of thermal and epithermal neutrons. In addition, it has excellent pulse height resolution for gamma ray spectroscopy. CeBr3 is also well suited for precision gamma ray spectroscopy. Its extremely high light output, excellent energy resolution, as well as zero self activity, can enable precise measurements of geochemically-significant elements. The proposed SSPM photodetector for scintillation readout is based on AlGaAs, a wide-band-gap compound semiconductor with aluminum concentration between 60% to 90%. The band-gap energy of this material is engineered to provide high photo sensitivity between 300nm to 500nm, which matches well with the emission spectrum of both CLYC and CeBr3. The wide-band-gap nature of AlGaAs also provides much lower dark noise and better radiation tolerance than Si-based detectors. Compared to conventional PMTs, the compact size, low voltage operation, and lighter weight of AlGaAs SSPM is more ideal for spaced based instruments. The advantages of AlGaAs-based SSPM and the excellent detection properties of CLYC and CeBr3 scintillation materials make them a perfect match in the development of next generation gamma neutron spectrometers for planetary science.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

Agency Micro-sites

SBA logo

Department of Agriculture logo

Department of Commerce logo

Department of Defense logo

Department of Education logo

Department of Energy logo

Department of Health and Human Services logo

Department of Homeland Security logo

Department of Transportation logo

Enviromental Protection Agency logo

National Aeronautics and Space Administration logo

National Science Foundation logo
US Flag An Official Website of the United States Government