Scintillation materials are used for detection of radiation, such as gamma rays, neutrons, and charged particles, which produces a light flash with an intensity proportional to the energy deposited in the scintillator. Compact, radiation tolerant scintillator-based nuclear detectors are a key component for a large number of science instruments in planetary science and astrophysics. A key development for future scientific exploration is a radiation-hard, high Zeff, high-density material that is sensitive to neutrons and provides excellent energy resolution for gamma rays spectroscopy. Traditionally, these materials would only detect one type of radiation, yet recent developments provide materials that provide unique responses to different radiation types. A material that has a high sensitivity allows for compact instruments reducing spacecraft (or rover) requirements and improving information content. RMD is pursuing materials designed with thallium to provide excellent stopping power. While some materials have shown excellent radiation tolerance, large volume growth is problematic. The Phase I effort will identify candidate materials for future development by assessing the potential for large volume growth, while maintaining good spectroscopic performance. Additional down selection is done by assessing the material radiation hardness to protons with a goal of no less than 80% light loss after 300 kRad of dose. Growth beyond 5 cm will be pursued in a Phase II effort for ideal candidates, and a detector prototype module will be constructed for assessing performance environmentally and spectroscopically.
Developing a compact, multi-purposed nuclear detector using an advanced scintillation material that can provide neutron and gamma ray spectroscopy is critical for instruments for mapping elemental constituents and volatiles, such as water on planets and moons. The instrument will support small cubesat missions, borehole probes, lander missions, and rover missions for planetary science. For astrophysics applications, the construction of the instrument supports large detector arrays.
The development for the project will have uses for military and homeland security applications. Our technology will be an excellent fit for personal Radiation Detectors (PRD), Spectroscopic Radiation Detectors (SPRD), in Radioisotope Identification Devices (RIIDs), Area Monitors, and in standoff detectors.