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Houston, TX, United States

Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 987.85K | Year: 2014

Neutron detectors for well logging require stable operation in an extreme environment of high temperatures, (175°C up to 260°C), high mechanical vibration, and shock. Helium-3 tubes have been the preferred solution, as they satisfy these requirements to 175°C, can be configured in small packages, are easy to fabricate, have low power requirements, and offer high detection efficiency. The supply of 3He gas has dwindled in recent years, however, and this medium can no longer support the demand in well- logging and other fields. Proportional Technologies Inc. (PTI) has developed boron-coated straw (BCS) detectors that have been shown to successfully replace 3He tubes in homeland security and neutron science applications. PTI has also developed a detector designed to withstand extreme temperatures. With recent developments PTI's straws are ultrasonically welded into all metal tubes and formed into corrugated structures that enhance the straw wall area by as much as two fold. The new construction is virtually impervious to temperature extremes. The basic Boron coated foil can be taken to 1000°C and -200°C repeatedly with no effect on the integrity of the coating nor foil structure. The corrugated structures lock together and substantially stabilize the straw walls against extreme vibration and shock. For this project, we propose a Fast Track development of a commercially attractive BCS-based neutron detector for well logging. The detector will share many of the attractions of 3He tubes, including compact size, high efficiency, low power consumption, and reliable operation in extreme environments. (of at least 250°C). This will take the straw detector well beyond the temperature and robustness capabilities of 3He detectors and open new horizons in well logging. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: Neutron detection is of substantial importance to US and world economy by aiding in discovery of new oil and gas fields. As newer oil field exploration is moving into depths where temperatures easily reach 250°C, we expect the proposed straw neutron detector will provide a substantial increase in operational temperature and also to provide unexcelled reliability reducing the high cost of oil and gas exploration. As such, this development is very important to US economy moving forward.

Agency: Department of Health and Human Services | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 199.95K | Year: 2007

DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Molecular imaging techniques are among the most powerful tools for non-invasive investigation of disease and fundamental biological processes in vivo and are therefore of high significance to the mission of the NIH. Positron Emission Tomography (PET) provides sensitivity to molecular tracer concentrations several orders of magnitude less than any other imaging technique offering a large fundamental sensitivity advantage. Also PET is able to produce rigorous quantitative 3D uptake distribution uniquely free of attenuation and scatter effects giving it another strong advantage over other methods such as optical imaging. Since mouse is by far the most popular species in molecular imaging, high resolution is of exceptional importance. A number of commercial scintillator based dedicated small animal PET scanners are on the market but are limited to a useful volumetric imaging resolution of no better than 5 fl and are very costly ($500,000 - $850,000). Recent attempts to reduce crystal size to levels needed to improve resolution performance have shown that depth of interaction (DOI) error reduces improvement to marginal levels despite substantial cost increase demonstrating the futility of the approach. Development of a low cost, high resolution PET scanner is proposed based on revolutionary detector elements composed of lead walled straws (LWS). Compared to scintillation crystal detectors, this technology is intrinsically many fold less expensive to produce and because the position of each detected gamma ray is located precisely in 3D space, fundamentally superior camera configurations can be employed to great advantage. Detectors can be placed very close to the imaged subject and events accepted over a substantially larger solid angle providing unparalleled sensitivity while maintaining immunity from resolution degradation caused by DOI. Unlike crystal devices with DOI problems, resolution performance of LWS devices scales precisely with detector dimension. Based on scaling of performance achieved in a 4 mm straw pilot device backed up by a comprehensive Monte Carlo study an optimally designed 2 mm LWS camera can reach at least a volumetric resolution of 1.2 fl and with recently demonstrated resolution refinements should achieve a further reduction to 0.58 fl. Furthermore using a very small detector module count of 28, a 4 fold increase in sensitivity and throughput can be achieved. In stark contrast to crystal devices the LWS camera design produces highly uniform sensitivity and resolution over its entire very large field of view. Feasibility will be demonstrated by construction of two densely packed 200 straw LWS modules of 30 - 50 cm length. Imaging performance using a rotating gantry will be evaluated through phantom testing. Lower cost combined with quantum improvement in quality will afford an exceptional new molecular imaging tool.

Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Defense Threat Reduction Agency | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 150.00K | Year: 2014

ABSTRACT: Boron coated straw detectors developed by Proportional Technologies, Inc have proven to perform exceptionally well in many neutron detection applications of interest to DOD. Over the last several years PTI has delivered many systems to government branches BENEFITS: The project will develop a cost effective neutron detector capable of determining both direction and energy content of a neutron source at distance. Although directional neutron detection is recognized as highly beneficial in search scenarios no effectiv

Proportional Technologies, Inc. | Date: 2013-10-10

The present invention includes an apparatus and method for neutron radiation detection. The apparatus comprises combining thin walled, boron-coated straw tubes with a plastic moderator material interspersed around the tubes. The method involves using such an apparatus through application of voltage to a central wire running inside the tubes and collecting electrical pulses generated thereby.

Proportional Technologies, Inc. | Date: 2013-10-22

An apparatus and a process is disclosed for applying a boron coating to a thin foil. Preferably, the process is a continuous, in-line process for applying a coating to a thin foil comprising wrapping the foil around a rotating and translating mandrel, cleaning the foil with glow discharge in an etching chamber as the mandrel with the foil moves through the chamber, sputtering the foil with boron carbide in a sputtering chamber as the mandrel moves through the sputtering chamber, and unwinding the foil off the mandrel after it has been coated. The apparatus for applying a coating to a thin foil comprises an elongated mandrel. Foil preferably passes from a reel to the mandrel by passing through a seal near the initial portion of an etching chamber. The mandrel has a translation drive system for moving the mandrel forward and a rotational drive system for rotating mandrel as it moves forward. The etching chamber utilizes glow discharge on a surface of the foil as the mandrel moves through said etching chamber. A sputtering chamber, downstream of the etching chamber, applies a thin layer comprising boron onto the surface of the foil as said mandrel moves through said sputtering chamber. Preferably, the coated foil passes from the mandrel to a second reel by passing through a seal near the terminal portion of the sputtering chamber.

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