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Detector of Nuclear Radiation Based on Silicon Carbide


High-Temperature SiC Detector of Nuclear Radiation and Defect Engineering under Irradiation

Tech Area / Field

  • INS-DET: Instrumentation / Detection Devices PHY-ANU: Physics / Atomic and Nuclear Physics PHY-SSP: Physics / Solid State Physics

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
Russian Academy of Sciences / Physical Technical Institute


  • Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
  • CEA / DEN / Departement d'Etudes des Reacteurs

Project summary

The aim of given Project is the development of high-temperature radiation-resistant SiC detectors for registration and spectrometry of high energy particles as well as engineering of the irradiation induced defects for control of the electro physical parameters of the devices.

The problem of development of electronics of a new generation able to operate at increased levels of radiation, high temperatures and chemical activity of the ambient media urgently needs for current development of atomic industry, nuclear power production, military and aerospace industry. Such devices allow to provide long term analysis of the products of reactions in the “hot spots” of nuclear reactors and accelerators with high fluencies of neutrons and charged particles.

One possible semiconductor material for the development of the required devices is silicon carbide (SiC), which permits capacity for working up to 1000 Centigrade and higher, which excludes the necessity of their compulsory cooling. SiC possesses high values of field strength at the avalanche breakdown, high value of thermal conductivity, chemical and mechanical strength and also high values of threshold defects formation energy, which predetermines its high radiation stability.

And only recently the opportunity has appeared to realize unique qualities of SiC due to progress in manufacturing of high quality material, that explains the increase in the interest to creation of the radiation stable electron component base, including detectors, as well as in the study of fundamental processes responsible for radiation defects formation under irradiation with different kinds of nuclear radiations.

State of art in the field of study. The questions of the issues of manufacturing instruments on SiC base for the purposes of hard duty electronics and the study of the influence of different types of radiation on it property were reflected in the project ISTC-2855, which has been approved without budgeting. In spite of this fact, the group engaged in the Project was able to make the pioneering conclusions on some of most fundamental questions:

  • It has been shown that 4H-SiC CVD epitaxial layers of new generation could be used for the manufacturing of spectrometric detectors of nuclear radiation, operating with high energy resolution (0.3%), commensurable with that of silicon detectors;
  • The technology has been developed on the base of thin ion-implanted by Aluminum p+-n junctions for production of SiC diodes and detectors of nuclear radiation workable at the temperatures up to 500 Centigrade. Interesting to note, that the devices degraded due to high fluencies of different types of radiation, partially recovered their properties after heating. This indicates new ways for the increase of radiation and temporal resources of the devices on the base of SiC and allows to suggest the appearance of new class of radiation-stable electronics elemental base operable at 400-500 Centigrade;
  • There were obtained promising results on the opportunity of purposeful variation of SiC parameters affected by hard irradiation;
  • The dominating role of elastic collisions in the formation of radiation damages in SiC has been demonstrated even at the super high levels of specific ionization energy losses 34keV/nm, for instance when irradiated by the heavy particles of high energies (above 1 MeV/a.u.m). The fragments of nuclear fusion processes are good examples of these particles. This implies high radiation stability of SiC in respect to the fragments of nuclear fusion and also the heavy ion component of cosmic radiation.

The impact of proposed Project in the suggested field. A successful completion of the Project will lead to the development of a production technology of the new class of radiation hard SiC-based devices (nuclear radiation detectors, electronic components) that operate at the temperatures of 400-500 Centigrade, a typical temperature for the majority of operating power plants as well as future nuclear power installations. This will significantly simplify the functioning of complex installations and, consequently, the cost of their exploitation. The fundamental studies of defects formation in SiC after controlled irradiation by high energy particles within the wide range of their masses, energies, fluencies and annealing parameters, will allow to control the structural and eletrophysical parameters of the material and devices based on SiC. Engineering of defects during the processes of irradiation and annealing opens new horizons and, in fact, new strategic direction on the development of radiation-technological processes in SiC.

Competence of the Project participants in the given field. The PTI and ETU employees have 30-40 years experience in the field of growing technology both the bulk crystals and epitaxial SiC layers and in the field of development of devices based on this material. The others recruited organizations have long term experience in the field of investigations and tests of the radiation hardness of micro electronics structures, devices and gauges of various physical parameters inside of reactors during and after the reactor experiments. It permits to carry out the studies applicable to the conditions of exploitation in reactors with the high neutron fluencies and gamma–ray intensities, in reactors of the NRE (Nuclear Rocket Engine) and NPPP (Nuclear Power Propulsion Plant).

Expected results and their application. As a result of completion of the Project the following will be obtained:

  • The instrumental version of SiC detectors of nuclear radiation and the matrixes with its with working temperature up to 500 Centigrade.
  • The quality improvement of the virgin material and device characteristics at controlled irradiation by high energy particles in wide range of their masses, energies, fluencies, irradiation temperatures and consequent annealing;
  • New data on defects formation in SiC depending on the comparative level of nuclear and ionization energy losses at the irradiation by heavy ions, which would permit to assess the radiation hardness of the material at the conditions which models the affect of heavy ion component of cosmic radiation spectrum;
  • The data on the correlation between the type and energy of radiation and dark current of devices, what allows to predict the radiation hardness of SiC devices;
  • Determination of values of upper limits of allowed fluencies of different kind of irradiation at different temperatures for SiC detectors;
  • Prototype of preamplifier unit for SiC detectors of nuclear radiation operated at the temperatures up to 500 Centigrade.

Compliance with the aims of the ISTC. The Project corresponds to the ISTC aims since the specialists having the knowledge in area of the weapons of mass destruction are occupied with it and itself project has exceptionally peaceful direction. Also the accordance to these purposes is reached at the expense of intended broad contribution to the World wide Scientific Community of the scientists from the Organization-Participants by sharing information on the Project at the International conferences and seminars.

The data on the volume of works. The implementation of the Project there will be focused on the following inter related problems:

  1. The engineering of defects in SiC under the irradiation of the virgin material and diode structures with ion-doped p-n junctions in broad range of masses of high energy particles, they energies and fluencies and also consequent annealing will be used for defect engineering and the samples will be studied by structural, optical and electro physical techniques. The irradiation of the samples will be performed in the temperature range of 80-800K, and annealing of samples up to 2200K. Some of optical and electro physical characteristics will be picked up “in-situ” under irradiation.
  2. The study of charge carrier transport mechanism and formation of the electronic signal in detectors at the working temperatures up to 500Centigrade. A special attention will be paid to the accomplishment and analysis of the following measurements:
    • signal to the noise ratio and elucidation the main factors affecting this parameter;
    • efficiency of the charge collection and energy resolution of the detectors for nuclear particle and heavy ions in the energy range of 1-5 Mev/a.u.m at the working temperature of 300-800 K;
    • study of the detector characteristics after exposing to the different types of radiation;
    • study of the detector characteristics “in-situ” during the process of irradiation by heavy ions;
    • time resolution and current characteristics of detectors in nanosecond range.
  3. Development of the casing prototype for SiC detectors of nuclear radiation in single unit and matrix version for exploitation at the temperature up to 500 Centigrade and hard radiation fields.
  4. Development of pre-amplifier for SiC detectors aimed to work at the temperatures up to 500 Centigrade and hard radiation fields.

Role of the foreign collaborators. The following scientific groups from Aalto University (Helsinki, Finland), Institute for Materials, Microelectronics and Nanosciences (Marseille, France), Center for Material Science (Oslo, Norway) and Royal Institute of Technology (Stockholm, Sweden) expressed their intention to collaborate in this Project. All scientific groups are acknowledged specialists in the World in areas of SiC growing and investigations, and in the field of development of devices based on this material. In the frameworks of proposed Project it is suggested that the input from the collaborators will be to assist with various kind of scientific instrumentation, cross-examination of the results, and participation in joint publications.

Technical approach and methodology. The main advantage in carrying out of the Project will be the fulfillment of the complex study of virgin material and device structures after each of technological stages that permit a full control of material parameters. The virgin material and completed detectors structures will be irradiated by alpha particles, electrons, neutrons, light and heavy ions (from Helium to Bismuth) of high energies up to few hundreds of MeV at the temperatures 80-900K. The measurements of the main parameters of the virgin material and diode structures before and after the irradiation will be carried out both with more than 20 commonly used standard methods and with implementation of the complex analytical methods and special purpose methods, developed in the different laboratories of Participants. So, the measurements of detector characteristics will be made in the special elaborated vacuum chamber at temperatures up to 500 Centigrade during irradiation by alpha particles. Thus, the vast complex of suggested physical studies don’t give up undoubtedly to the World sciences level in this field.


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