Research into the development of novel Si, HPGe, and CZT detectors is conducted at the Semiconductor Detector Laboratory (SDL). Current research activities include the development of systems for gamma-ray tracking, imaging, and high-resolution spectroscopy for applications in the areas of nuclear physics, astrophysics, nuclear nonproliferation, and homeland security.
Recent and ongoing research projects include:
- Development of ultra-low noise and ultra-low background front-end electronics for HPGe detectors
- Development of novel HPGe detectors for high-resolution gamma-ray imaging and spectroscopy at count rates in excess of 1 Mcps
- Fabrication of new Si(Li) detectors for nuclear structure physics applications
- Development of single photon sensing HPGe devices.
- Development and demonstration of a compact CZT-based detector system for in-situ B-spectroscopy
- Exploration and characterization of contact technologies for HPGe and CZT detectors
- Development of modular, high-rate detector readout and data acquisition electronics
Today the Semiconductor Detector Laboratory (SDL) is run by staff in NSD’s Applied Nuclear Physics Program and the Engineering Division. The facility and its staff have all the equipment and expertise necessary to develop and manufacture unique detectors and detection systems based on Si, HPGe, and CdZnTe. The SDL and its staff have a long history of accomplishments in the development and production of radiation detectors and the support of LBNL’s scientific mission. In the early 1960’s, lithium-drifted Si detectors were one of the main focuses of the SDL, and such detectors were produced extensively for Nuclear Science Division (NSD) experiments. Lithium-drifted Ge detectors were also produced, which was then followed by the development of high-purity Ge (HPGe) crystal growth in the early 1970’s and the eventual development of new detector technologies based on the material. Position-sensitive Si and HPGe detectors were developed, and the first Si and HPGe drift detectors were made in the SDL. The shaped-field point-contact HPGe detector, and the amorphous semiconductor passivation and electrical contact technologies were also invented and developed in the SDL. In the mid 1990’s the detector work was expanded to CdZnTe, which led to the highly successful coplanar-grid technology.