Natural Boron and 10B-Enriched Hexagonal Boron Nitride for High-Sensitivity Self-Biased Metal–Semiconductor–Metal Neutron Detectors

Adama Mballo, Ali Ahaitouf, Suresh Sundaram, Ashutosh Srivastava, Vishnu Ottapilakkal, Rajat Gujrati, Phuong Vuong, Soufiane Karrakchou, Mritunjay Kumar, Xiaohang Li, Yacine Halfaya, Simon Gautier, Paul L. Voss, Jean Paul Salvestrini, Abdallah Ougazzaden

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4 Scopus citations


Metal-semiconductor-metal (MSM) detectors based on Ti/Au and Ni/Au interdigitated structures were fabricated using 2.5 micrometer thick hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN) layer with both natural and 10B-enriched boron. Current-voltage (I-V) and current-time (I-t) curves of the fabricated detectors were recorded with (IN) and without (Id) neutron irradiation, allowing the determination of their sensitivity (S = (IN - Id)/Id = ΔI/Id). Natural and 10B-enriched h-BN detectors exhibited high neutron sensitivities of 233 and 367% at 0 V bias under a flux of 3 × 104 n/cm2/s, respectively. An imbalance in the distribution of filled traps between the two electric contacts could explain the self-biased operation of the MSM detectors. Neutron sensitivity is further enhanced with electrical biasing, reaching 316 and 1192% at 200 V and a flux of 3 × 104 n/cm2/s for natural and 10B-enriched h-BN detectors, respectively, with dark current as low as 2.5 pA at 200 V. The increased performance under bias has been attributed to a gain mechanism based on neutron-induced charge carrier trapping at the semiconductor/metal interface. The response of the MSM detectors under thermal neutron flux and bias voltages was linear. These results clearly indicate that the thin-film monocrystal BN MSM neutron detectors can be optimized to operate sensitively with the absence of external bias and generate stronger signal detection using 10B-enriched boron.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalACS Omega
StatePublished - Dec 28 2021

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2022-01-25
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): OSR-2018-CRG7-3771.2
Acknowledgements: This study was partially funded by the French National Research Agency (ANR) under the GANEX Laboratory of Excellence (Labex) project and the KAUST Competitive Research Grant under grant no. OSR-2018-CRG7-3771.2 as well as the Grand Est Region in France. The authors gratefully acknowledge Stephanie Sorieul, Mourad Aiche, and Ludovic Mathieu from CENBG for their help on the neutron testing.


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