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Watertown, MA, United States

Agency: Department of Homeland Security | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 250.00K | Year: 2016

We propose to develop a thermal neutron detection module based on LiInSe2 semiconductor material as an alternative to He-3 detectors. While recent depletion of He-3 gas is the main driving force behind development of He-3 replacements, other issues with He-3 tubes such as a pressurized vessel used and microphonic issues are also important factors in handheld and portable detectors. LiInSe2 offers (1) efficient thermal neutron detection (significantly higher per-volume than 3H); (2) direct conversion of the neutrons to electrical signal, which is an advantage compared to the alternative solution based on scintillators with neutron detection capabilities; and (3) good separation between gamma and neutron particles utilizing simple pulse height discrimination. The final goal is to develop a LiInSe2 detection module and integrate it into a compact handheld instrument. The technical objectives of Phase II is to advance the technology based on Phase I investigation and design and develop a neutron detection module and integrated into a neutron handheld instrument.

Agency: Department of Homeland Security | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 499.99K | Year: 2016

RMD is proposing to construct a compact detector module for radiation pager applications utilizing a TlBr semiconductor device as the radiation sensitive element. Due to its excellent energy resolution, detection efficiency and low cost crystal growth method, a TlBr-based pager should greatly expand the capabilities and availability of these instruments. Various detector designs were evaluated during Phase I, using sensitivity and energy resolution as key differentiators. With a basic design now selected, RMD will start Phase II by refining design details and fabrication procedures, all with the goal of achieving a robust detector technology. The ANSI N42.32 standard will be met and further potential will be demonstrated towards meeting future radioisotopic identification needs. By program end, RMD will construct a prototype pager that highlights the technology. In its completed state, the TlBr technology will provide a new level of performance to the Nation's capabilities in monitoring the flow of radioactive materials within its borders. Other potential commercial applications include nuclear medicine, space and geological sciences and industrial non-destructive testing.

Agency: Department of Health and Human Services | Branch: National Institutes of Health | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 753.15K | Year: 2016

DESCRIPTION provided by applicant Radioluminescence microscopy RLM is a newly developed method for imaging radionuclide uptake in live single cells Current methods of radiotracer imaging are limited to measuring the average radiotracer uptake in large cell populations and as a result lack the ability to quantify cell to cell variations With the new raio luminescence microscopy technique however it is possible to visualize radiotracer uptake within individual cells in a fluorescence microscope environment The goal of this project is to develop a revolutionary innovation in a key component used in this technique This key part in the radioluminescence microscopy imaging system is the scintillator that converts ionizing beta radiation into optical photons that are imaged with a CCD camera In this work an improved scintillator will be developed specifically for use in a radioluminescence microscopy system that will offer unprecedented sensitivity and spatial resolution Such a technological advance has the potential for widespread use in research and in hospitals providing a means to characterize how properties specific to individual cells e g gene expression cell cycle cell damage and cel morphology affect the uptake and retention of radiotracers Higher spatial resolution will allow single cells to be probed in situ in dense tissue sections and will dramatically improve the throughput of the instruments allowing thousands of cells to be imaged at once These new capabilities will be critical to help researchers better understand the behavior of rare single cels such as stem cells or drug resistant cells The work during Phase I was successful in demonstrating the significant RLM performance improvements with thin films of a new highly dense transparent scintillator europium activated lutetium oxide Lu O Eu This material has the highest density g cm of any known scintillator high effective atomic number excellent light output and an emission wavelength nm for which Si sensors have a very high quantum efficiency Scintillator specimens were integrated into a radioluminescence microscope demonstrating improved performance and the feasibility of our approach Our ultimate goal is to commercialize this technology as a radioluminescence enabled imaging dish which will have a standard form factor but will include a thin coating of the Lu O Eu scintillator at the bottom As such the technological innovation will provide a valuable new tool to researchers allowing unprecedented localization of radiotracer uptake down to single living cells This new innovative technology will have widespread use as an addition to current fluorescence microscope instruments in use today and thus will have great commercial potential PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE The goal of the proposed research is to develop a very high performance radioluminescence microscope for imaging radionuclide uptake in live single cells Among other benefits this technological advance has the potential for widespread use in research and in hospitals providing a means to characterize how properties specific to individual cells e g gene expression cell cycle cell damage and cell morphology affect the uptake and retention of radiotracers Because of the prominent role played by PET in oncology radioluminescence microscopy may also become a routine technique in cancer biology for instance to study the behavior of distinct cell subpopulations within a tumor such as the cancer stem cells or drug resistant cells In hematology the microscope could be used to characterize the properties of single immune cells Last this new technique will benefit the development of new imaging and therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals since it will allow researchers to more precisely measure the uptake of a radiopharmaceutical in single cells

Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 999.90K | Year: 2015

Dry cask storage systems (DCSS) are used to store spent nuclear fuel from nuclear power plants. Without a long term storage solution in place, storage for decades in casks may be required. High burnup fuel rods may become brittle over time presenting problems for eventual transport of the spent fuel from reactor sites to a central storage facility. It is desired to passively determine the structural integrity of spent fuel assemblies by monitoring conditions inside the casks including temperatures, pressures, corrosion products and radioactive decay elements. The presence of Kr-85, a high yield, long-life fission product gas, in the outer envelope of a dry storage cask is an indicator of a fuel rod cladding breach. RMD will investigate radiation detectors for monitoring beta particle emissions from Kr-85 radiation while inside storage casks. In particular, the design goal is to detect beta particles in the presence of strong background gamma rays. Diamond is a wide band gap semiconductor that can operate at elevated temperatures and under high radiation conditions, and with intrinsic properties that enable high count rate detection. Detectors were fabricated from synthetic diamond samples, both polycrystalline and single crystal. Their sensitivity to beta particles from Kr-85 and photons (such as from Cs-137) were measured. Operating a stack of two diamond detectors in coincidence was found to be an effective technique for discriminating between beta and gamma interactions. And most impressively, the diamond detectors were found to operate with low noise even at elevated temperatures. RMD will optimize the diamond devices and determine a final detector assembly. A significant effort will involve pushing the detector design to operate under harsher conditions, through more in-depth testing with collaborators, particularly under higher radiation conditions. From design and evaluation, RMD will initiate construction of complimentary electronics. Finally, there will be further outreach to specialists in the field who can ensure that the sensor is adaptable to plans for future waste storage (and other nuclear fuel cycle needs). In addition to monitoring status of nuclear waste inside storage casks, non-destructive evaluation, particle physics and homeland security are also possible areas that would benefit from a rad hard beta particle detector, which could operate at elevated temperatures if need be. Bore hole logging is another high temperature detector application. Due to its high density of nuclei, diamond is promising for fast neutron detection. Diamond detectors are also well suited for tissue equivalent dosimeter applications.

Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 1.50M | Year: 2015

Neutron radiography using the foil-film transfer method is currently employed for the quantitative evaluation of the geometric and compositional characteristics of nuclear fuel burn-up distribution, visualization of cracks and void formations, fuel location determination, pellet-clad and pellet-pellet gaps identification, and to understand the state of non-fuel component geometries. Although this method is gamma insensitive and provides large area high spatial resolution radiographs, this process takes significant time to produce an image, which is impractical for neutron radiography and/or tomography. A large area digital detector that can simultaneously provide high spatial resolution, rapid response, and can operate in a harsh radiation environment is needed to accomplish these tasks. We are developing a novel solid-state digital imaging detector based on neutron intercepting integrated circuit. This detector offers high sensitivity to thermal neutrons, is insensitive to gamma radiation, has fast temporal response, is able to image highly-radioactive specimens with high spatial resolution, and can withstand intense mixed radiation environments. Low cost modular design and easy scalability to realize very large active areas are its other attractive features. In Phase I, we established the feasibility of developing a solid-state neutron radiography detector through experimental tests conducted at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and at Idaho National Laboratory. The prototype detector demonstrated high efficiency to thermal neutrons, exceptional spatial resolution, insensitivity to gamma background from fuel specimens, and its ability to acquire images in minutes under realistic field conditions. The goal of the Phase II program is to develop a fully functional, large area digital neutron detector. The IC readout circuitry, data acquisition hardware, and software will be developed. The resulting prototype will be thoroughly characterized to demonstrate its sensitivity to neutrons, insensitivity to gamma radiation, high resolution imaging capability, and its ability to operate in a harsh radiation environment under field conditions. Technology commercialization activities will also be undertaken in parallel. The proposed neutron detector applications include non-destructive testing, baggage scanning at entry ports, diffraction studies in support of research in medicine, energy, and transportation at facilities worldwide including at DOEs Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) and at the Los Alamos Neutron Scattering Center (LANCE). The Department of Homeland Securitys (DHS), Department of Defenses (DOD), and DOEs future deployments of radiation detection portal monitors will benefit from the proposed development.

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