The instant invention is a method for making and using an apparatus for detecting neutrons. Scintillating optical fibers are fabricated by melting SiO.sub.2 with a thermal neutron capturing substance and a scintillating material in a reducing atmosphere. The melt is then drawn into fibers in an anoxic atmosphere. The fibers may then be coated and used directly in a neutron detection apparatus, or assembled into a geometrical array in a second, hydrogen-rich, scintillating material such as a polymer. Photons generated by interaction with thermal neutrons are trapped within the coated fibers and are directed to photoelectric converters. A measurable electronic signal is generated for each thermal neutron interaction within the fiber. These electronic signals are then manipulated, stored, and interpreted by normal methods to infer the quality and quantity of incident radiation. When the fibers are arranged in an array within a second scintillating material, photons generated by kinetic neutrons interacting with the second scintillating material and photons generated by thermal neutron capture within the fiber can both be directed to photoelectric converters. These electronic signals are then manipulated, stored, and interpreted by normal methods to infer the quality and quantity of incident radiation.