Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory

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Boron 10 Neutron Detector

An early-stage efficient, cost-effective, and environmentally safe alternative to Helium-3 based neutron detectors. 


Achieves thermal neutron detection efficiencies comparable to Helium-3-based detectors - uses finely powdered Boron-10 to achieve thermal neutron detection efficiencies comparable to Helium-3-based detectors, and without the drawbacks of other suggested alternative materials.

Nontoxic and poses no environmental dangers - unlike Boron Trifloride, a hazardous gas that has been suggested as a Helium-3 replacement.

Provides excellent gamma/neutron discrimination - experiments using Boron-10 based detectors show excellent gamma/neutron discrimination, allowing users to tell the difference between radiation emitted by nuclear materials and naturally occurring gamma radiation emitted by benign cargos, such as bananas.

Material is accessible and inexpensive - the United States has a vast natural supply of elemental Boron, from which Boron-10 can be easily separated.

Minimizes infrastructure replacement costs - using LANL’s proprietary design, Boron-10 based detectors can also be manufactured as direct drop-in replacements to existing Helium-3 detectors.


Z. Wang and C. L. Morris, “Multi-layer boron thin-film detectors for neutrons.” Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research A, Volume 652, Issue 1, p. 323-325 (2011).

Z. Wang, C. L. Morris, J.D. Bacon, M.I. Brockwell, J.C. Ramsey, “A double-helix neutron detector using micron-size 10B powder. ” Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research A, Volume 764, Issue 11, p. 261-267 (2014).

S-116,324, U.S. Non-Provisional Patent No. 8,445,859, entitled &ldquo;Neutron Detectors Comprising Boron Powder&rdquo;, June 6<sup>th</sup>, 2010.</p>
S-121,225, U.S. Non-Provisional Patent No. 8,492,730, entitled &ldquo;Neutron Detectors Comprising Ultra-Thin Boron Powder&rdquo;, December 8<sup>th</sup>, 2010.</p>
S-121,732, U.S. Non-Provisional Patent Application No. 61/734,343, entitled &ldquo;Double Helix Boron-10 Powder Neutron Detector&rdquo;, June 6<sup>th</sup>, 2012.</p>
Development Stage

A bench-scale prototype has been built and tested with positive results. A field prototype development and test would be required for optimization of the technology.

Technology Readiness Level: 7- System prototype demonstration in an operational environment.