Thermal neutron detectors based on hexagonal boron nitride epilayers

T. C. Doan, A. Marty, J. Li, J. Y. Lin, H. X. Jiang

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Solid-state neutron detectors with high performances are urgently sought after for the detection of fissile materials. Until now, direct-conversion neutron detectors based on semiconductors with a measureable efficiency have not been realized. We have successfully synthesized hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN) epilayers with varying thicknesses (0.3 μm - 50 μm) by metal organic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) on sapphire substrates. In this paper, we present the detailed characterization of thermal neutron detectors fabricated from h-BN epilayers with a thickness up to 5 m to obtain insights into the h-BN epilayer thickness dependence of the device performance. The results revealed that the charge collection efficiency is almost independent of the h-BN epilayer thickness. By minimizing h-BN material removal by dry etching, it was shown that detectors incorporating an isotopically 10B-enriched h-BN epilayer of 2.7 μm in thickness exhibited an overall detection efficiency for thermal neutrons of 4% and a charge collection efficiency as high as 83%. By doing away altogether with dry etching, we have successfully realized a simple vertical 43 μm thick h-10BN detector which delivers a detection efficiency of 51.4% for thermal neutrons, which is the highest reported efficiency for any semiconductor-based neutron detector The h-BN detectors possess all the advantages of semiconductor devices including low cost, high efficiency and sensitivity, wafer-scale processing, compact size, light weight, and ability to integrate with other functional devices.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHard X-Ray, Gamma-Ray, and Neutron Detector Physics XVIII
EditorsArnold Burger, Stephen A. Payne, Larry A. Franks, Ralph B. James, Ralph B. James, Michael Fiederle
ISBN (Electronic)9781510603271
StatePublished - 2016
EventSPIE Conference on Hard X-Ray, Gamma-Ray, and Neutron Detector Physics XVIII - San Diego, United States
Duration: Aug 29 2016Aug 31 2016

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X
ISSN (Electronic)1996-756X


ConferenceSPIE Conference on Hard X-Ray, Gamma-Ray, and Neutron Detector Physics XVIII
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego


  • Hexagonal boron nitride
  • direct-conversion neutron detectors
  • solid-state neutron detectors
  • wide bandgap semiconductors.


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