Design considerations for thin film coated semiconductor thermal neutron detectors—I: basics regarding alpha particle emitting neutron reactive films
Semiconductor-based thermal neutron detectors provide a compact technology for neutron detection and imaging. Such devices can be produced by externally coating semiconductor-charged-particle detectors with neutron reactive films that convert free neutrons into charged-particle reaction products. Commonly used films for such devices utilize the 10B(n,α) 7Li reaction or the 6Li(n,α) 3H reaction, which are attractive due to the relatively high energies imparted to the reaction products. Unfortunately, thin film or "foil" type thermal neutron detectors suffer from self-absorption effects that ultimately limit neutron detection efficiency. Design considerations that maximize the efficiency and performance of such devices are discussed. Theoretical and experimental results from front coated, back coated, and "sandwich" designs are presented.