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Composite Solid-State Scintillators for Neutron Detection

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

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Technology Marketing Summary

Using a room temperature process, a new type of transparent, crack-free, monolithic
scintillator has been developed at ORNL. This invention uses thin-film, glass, and
fiber-optic sensors, and is based on the preparation of neutron scintillators with a
room temperature sol-gel process. The result is an inexpensive, versatile system that is
compatible with both inorganic and organic dopants for hybrid material processing.
Typically, solid-state neutron scintillators are prepared by high temperature methods,
making them difficult to integrate as films into electronic devices for neutron detection.


The conventional methods also eliminate the possibility of using organic scintillators
because organic compounds are seldom stable at elevated temperatures. Other liquid
scintillators have been developed; however, they are impractical due to handling
constraints and leakage. As a result, there is a need for efficient in situ monitoring and
imaging of radioactive contaminants.

This invention is a new type of solid-state scintillator for neutron detection consisting
of an inorganic matrix homogeneously doped with a neutron absorbing material and
an organic phase solubilized in a surfactant solution. The organic phase forms micelles,
which are homogeneously doped into the transparent inorganic (silica gel) matrix.

  • Does not require rare materials
  • Is easily integrated into electronic detection devices
  • Greatly enhances fluorescence efficiencies
  • Material is readily replicated to scale to large areas (such as square meters)
Applications and Industries
  • Manufacturing of neutron detectors with large areas for relatively high resolution neutron detection
  • Monitor fissile material in situ through integration into electronic detecting devices
  • Determine fissile matter within remote-handled transuranic waste
  • Monitor spent nuclear fuel rods
More Information

Sheng Dai, Hee-Jung Im, and Michelle D. Pawel, Composite Solid-State Scintillators for Neutron Detection, U.S. Patent 7,105,832, issued September 12, 2006.

Lead Inventor
Sheng Dai
Chemical Sciences Division
Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Patents and Patent Applications
ID Number
Title and Abstract
Primary Lab
Patent 7,105,832
Composite solid-state scintillators for neutron detection
Applicant's present invention is a composite scintillator for neutron detection comprising a matrix material fabricated from an inorganic sol-gel precursor solution homogeneously doped with a liquid scintillating material and a neutron absorbing material. The neutron absorbing material yields at least one of an electron, a proton, a triton, an alpha particle or a fission fragment when the neutron absorbing material absorbs a neutron. The composite scintillator further comprises a liquid scintillating material in a self-assembled micelle formation homogeneously doped in the matrix material through the formation of surfactant-silica composites. The scintillating material is provided to scintillate when traversed by at least one of an electron, a proton, a triton, an alpha particle or a fission fragment. The scintillating material is configured such that the matrix material surrounds the micelle formation of the scintillating material. The composite scintillator is fabricated and applied as a thin film on substrate surfaces, a coating on optical fibers or as a glass material.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory 09/12/2006
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated

Contact ORNL About This Technology

To: Jennifer Tonzello Caldwell, Ph.D.<>