A conduction cooled neutron absorber may include a metal matrix composite that comprises a metal having a thermal neutron cross-section of at least about 50 barns and a metal having a thermal conductivity of at least about 1 W/cmK. Apparatus for providing a neutron flux having a high fast-to-thermal neutron ratio may include a source of neutrons that produces fast neutrons and thermal neutrons. A neutron absorber positioned adjacent the neutron source absorbs at least some of the thermal neutrons so that a region adjacent the neutron absorber has a fast-to-thermal neutron ratio of at least about 15. A coolant in thermal contact with the neutron absorber removes heat from the neutron absorber.
This invention was made with government support under Contract No. DE-AC07-05ID-14517 awarded by the United States Department of Energy. The government has certain rights in the invention.