BORON-NITRIDE NANOTUBES AND VERSATILE DIELECTRICS FOR MEMS ELECTRONIC NOSE RADIATION DETECTOR
Gats, John V.
Smith, Craig F.
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As society's use of radiation-producing technologies increases, so does the need to create more effective and versatile radiation detectors. Low-cost, low-power, compact radiation detectors are applicable across an ever-growing range of fields and industries. Micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) and other printed fabrication technology can enable future mass production of versatile radiation sensors while maintaining reliability and low costs. By utilizing the electronic nose framework, combining an array of sensors to low-cost computing, we propose a new method of robust real-time radiation detection. This thesis explores both the fabrication process of MEMS sensors and the testing of various new materials designed to respond to gamma and neutron irradiation. Through three iterations of sensor creation at Naval Postgraduate School and NASA, and subsequent testing of those sensors, a sensor combining carbon nanotubes and boron-nitride nanotubes successfully registered thermal neutron irradiation. A different sensor, combining MEMS capacitors with varying dielectric materials, did not register gamma irradiation during testing. The neutron detection results simply confirmed the presence of neutron irradiation. We recommend future testing to measure specific response to energy and fluence of neutrons, to redesign the MEMS chip and to change the dielectric detection materials.
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