E-SiCure Collaboration Project: Silicon Carbide Material Studies and Detector Prototype Testing at the JSI TRIGA Reactor
Jož Stefan Institute,
Rudjer Bošković Institute, Zagreb, Croatia
ANSTO, Lucas Heights, Australia
QST, Takasaki Gunma, Japan
University of Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal
Published online: 20 January 2020
In 2016, the ”E-SiCure” project (standing for Engineering Silicon Carbide for Border and Port Security), funded by the NATO Science for Peace and Security Programme, was launched. The main objective is to combine theoretical, experimental and applied research towards the development of radiation-hard SiC-based detectors of special nuclear materials (SNM), and by that way, to enhance border and port security barriers. Along the plan, material modification processes are employed firstly to study, and secondly to manipulate the most severe electrically active defects (which trap or annihilate free charge carriers), by specific ion implantation and defect engineering. This paper gives an overview of the experimental activities performed at the JSI TRIGA reactor in the framework of the E-SiCure project. Initial activities were aimed at obtaining information on the radiation hardness of SiC and at the study of the energy levels of the defects induced by neutron irradiation. Several Schottky barrier diodes were fabricated out of nitrogen-doped epitaxial grown 4H-SiC, and irradiated under Cd filters in the PT irradiation channel in the JSI TRIGA reactor with varying neutron fluence levels. Neutron-induced defects in the material were studied using temperature dependent current-voltage (I-V), capacitance-voltage (C-V) and Deep-Level Transient Spectroscopy (DLTS) measurements. Our prototype neutron detectors are configured as 4H-SiC-based Schottky barrier diodes for detection of secondary charged particles (tritons, alphas and lithium atoms) which are result of thermal neutron conversion process in 10B and 6LiF layers above the surface of the 4H-SiC diodes. For field testing of neutron detectors using a broad beam of reactor neutrons we designed a standalone prototype detection system consisting of a preamplifier, shaping amplifier and a multichannel analyser operated by a laptop computer. The reverse bias for the detector diode and the power to electronic system are provided by a standalone battery-powered voltage source. The detector functionality was established through measurements using an 241Am alpha particle source. Two dedicated experimental campaigns were performed at the JSI TRIGA reactor. The registered pulse height spectra from the detectors, using both 10B and 6LiF neutron converting layers, clearly demonstrated the neutron detection abilities of the SiC detector prototypes.
Key words: Silicon carbide / Neutron detection / Neutron converter / JSI TRIGA reactor
© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2020
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