Sunday, 15 January 2012

Race for helium-3 (neutron-detector material) alternatives

Race for helium-3 (neutron-detector material) alternatives: "The search for alternative detector materials is expected to reduce demand for helium-3, but choice is limited. Neutrons cannot be detected directly - they can only effect changes in absorber materials, which subsequently create signals for detection. Helium-3 does this via a nuclear reaction, absorbing neutrons to produce charged tritium and a proton, which go on to produce a charge cloud that can be detected electronically. The only other material that performs this proportional detection almost as well is boron, either on its own (boron-10) or in boron trifluoride (BF3). Another option is a scintillating material, such as lithium-6, which emits light when neutrons create charged particles."... "The most likely choice will be boron-10. It has been shown to have a fairly high neutron-detection efficiency and, in an analysis by the US Government Accountability Office, it received the highest score for 'technology readiness level' - 7 out of 9, as opposed to 6 for lithium-6 and 5 for BF3."

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