Superconducting Gamma-ray and fast-neutron spectrometers with very high energy resolution operated at very low temperatures are provided. The sensor consists of a bulk absorber and a superconducting thermometer weakly coupled to a cold reservoir, and determines the energy of the incident particle from the rise in temperature upon absorption. A superconducting film operated at the transition between its superconducting and its normal state is used as the thermometer, and sensor operation at reservoir temperatures around 0.1 K reduces thermal fluctuations and thus enables very high energy resolution. Depending on the choice of absorber material, the spectrometer can be configured either as a Gamma-spectrometer or as a fast-neutron spectrometer.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.