Superconducting thermal neutron detectors

V. Merlo, A. Pietropaolo, G. Celentano, M. Cirillo, M. Lucci, I. Ottaviani, M. Salvato, A. Scherillo, E.M. Schooneveld, A. Vannozzi

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


A neutron detection concept is presented that is based on superconductive niobium nitride (NbN) strips coated by a boron (B) layer. The working principle is well described by a hot spot mechanism: upon the occurrence of the nuclear reactions n +10B → α +7Li + 2.8 MeV, the energy released by the secondary particles into the strip induces a superconducting-normal state transition. The latter is recognized as a voltage signal which is the evidence of the incident neutron. The above described detection principle has been experimentally assessed and verified by irradiating the samples with a pulsed neutron beam at the ISIS spallation neutron source (UK). It is found that the boron coated superconducting strips, kept at a temperature T below 11K and current-biased below the critical current IC, are driven into the normal state upon thermal neutron irradiation. Measurements on the counting rate of the device are presented and the basic physical features of the detector are discussed and compared to those of a borated Nb superconducting strip.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 2016
Externally publishedYes
Event6th European Conference on Neutron Scattering, ECNS 2015 - Zaragoza, Spain
Duration: 10 Oct 2016 → …


Conference6th European Conference on Neutron Scattering, ECNS 2015
Period10/10/16 → …


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

Cite this

Merlo, V., Pietropaolo, A., Celentano, G., Cirillo, M., Lucci, M., Ottaviani, I., ... Vannozzi, A. (2016). Superconducting thermal neutron detectors. Paper presented at 6th European Conference on Neutron Scattering, ECNS 2015, Zaragoza, Spain.