Ready for Transfer

Sandia’s Silicon-based Neutron Detector

Dept. of Energy

Laboratory: Sandia National Laboratories (SNL)

Technology: Silicon-based neutron detector

Opportunity: This patented Sandia technology is currently available for licensing.

Details: Sandia National Labs has expanded upon research into microstructured semiconductor neutron detectors and created a silicon-based device with greater sensitivity than the current state-of-the-art and adaptability for the detection of general particles/radiation.

Sandia’s neutron detector is designed with a plurality of vertical pores filled with neutron-sensitive converter material inside a single crystal silicon detector. The pores are less than 5 µm to ensure penetration of the reaction by-products after neutron absorption to enter into the silicon detector region for increased efficiency. These pores are generated using established methods of manufacturing (porous silicon etching or deep reactive ion etch). The design allows for a high fill ratio of neutron-sensitive material in close proximity to the detector material (silicon), which is essential to create a highly efficient detector.

Each individual detector pixel creates a 2D array that can then be stacked to form a 3D array for full volume detection and tracking of fragments. This detector has much higher resolution and allows novel measurements to be carried out as compared to a single monolithic detector with the same volume.

Onboard electronics built into the silicon wafer can make for a sensor that can be included in a watch, the sole of a shoe, or a belt buckle for unobtrusive fielding with low-power usage.

The rugged, compact neutron detector can also be easily adapted to detect general particles/radiation by modifying or removing the sensitive materials.


  • Efficiencies greater than 5% are expected
  • Rugged, compact
  • Manufactured using established methods
  • Adaptable for a variety of radiation detection


  • National defense and security
  • Medical
  • Public safety
  • Nuclear nonproliferation

Contact: For more information on this novel technology, contact

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