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A High temperature-tolerant and Radiation-resistant Neutron Sensor for Advanced Reactors

Research Scholar

Jie Qiu, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (China)
Lei Cao, Faculty Mentor


Jie Qiu is a visiting scholar from China with expertise on the irradiation effect of nuclear material, as well as testing methods including SEM, TEM, AFM, internal friction, XRD and positron annihilation. Before his time at Ohio State, Qiu was a researcher in molecular dynamic simulation for irradiation damage at Tsinghua University. During his doctoral program, his research activities included the study of mechanical property and irradiation effect of RAFM (reduced activation ferritic/martensitic) steel for fusion reactor. Qiu has published more than 10 peer-reviewed papers in journals and conference proceedings.

What is the issue or problem addressed in your research?

GaN material is a frontier of semiconductor materials that has caught attention by a wide R&D area during recent years. This novel semiconductor is the foundation for development of new type microelectronic and optoelectronic devices. GaN material, along with SiC and diamond material has been hailed as “third-generation semiconductor” after Ge,Si (first-generation semiconductor), and GaAs, lnP (second-generation semiconductor) material. GaN has large direct bandgap, strong atomic bond, high thermal conductivity and steady chemical property. Compared with traditional semiconductor materials, GaN has extremely extensive applications in the optoelectronic, high frequency (HF) microwave, high temperature, and high power electronic devices.

Another potential area for GaN material is as a radiation detector. Compared with other traditional detector materials, GaN has demonstrated a.) the radiation hardness that is two order of magnitudes higher than the traditional Si detectors; b.) a large band gap which allows GaN detector to operate at high temperature with sufficiently low leakage current. All of these features warrant GaN as a new generation of radiation detector with many advantages.

What methodology did you use in your research?

The scope of my current research is to develop a fundamental understanding of materials properties and electronic response of GaN semiconductor device in high temperature environment with an intense radiation (e.g., neutron) field. Both GaN crystal and detector have been planned for reactor in-core irradiations. The post-irradiation evaluations are focusing on defects and material's properties. The detector post-irradiation evaluations are focusing on electronic performance.

What are the purpose/rationale and implications of your research?

The purpose of my research is to develop a small and GaN neutron sensor capable of withstanding high neutron fluence and high temperature, isolating gamma background, which offers another alternative to the next generation radiation detectors for high neutron field applications.