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Neutron detection by superconducting tunnel junctions on a Li$$_{2}$$B$$_{4}$$O$$_{7}$$ single-crystal absorber

Nakamura, Tatsuya ; Katagiri, Masaki; Ukibe, Masahiro*; Ikeuchi, Takashi*; Okubo, Masataka*

We succeeded in detecting neutrons using superconducting tunnel junctions (STJs) fabricated on a single crystal of Li$$_{2}$$B$$_{4}$$O$$_{7}$$. Neutrons are captured in the crystal by the nuclear reactions $$^{6}$$Li + n $$rightarrow$$ T+ $$alpha$$ + 4.78 MeV and $$^{10}$$B + n $$rightarrow$$ $$^{7}$$Li + $$alpha$$ + 2.3 MeV, and generated phonons propagate in the absorber and are measured by the STJs. We selected a single crystal of Li$$_{2}$$B$$_{4}$$O$$_{7}$$ as the absorber material because of properties such as the large neutron cross-section of $$^{6}$$Li and $$^{10}$$B, low $$gamma$$-ray sensitivity, short particle range in the substrate, and fast phonon velocity. Series-connected or multiple STJs on the crystal would enable two-dimensional neutron imaging with high detection efficiency, low gamma-ray background, and a high spatial resolution of a few microns. We demonstrate neutron detection by the STJs and show their X-ray response and neutron detection. The correlation in pulse heights between two junctions located 1.3mm apart clearly indicates the possibility of neutron imaging.

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