Neutron radiation detection is an important issue for the space program, satellite communications, and national defense. But since neutrons have no electric charge, they can pass through many kinds of solid objects without stopping. This makes it difficult to build devices to detect them, so we need special materials that can absorb neutrons and leave a measurable signature when they do. Researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln are studying the effects of solar neutron radiation on two types of materials on the International Space Station (ISS), using detectors made of very stable compounds that contain boron-10 and lithium-6.
About pdowben1Peter Dowben is a Charles Bessey Professor of Physics at the University of Nebraska (UNL). He did a post-doctoral at the Fritz Haber Institute in Berlin, Germany under Professor Michael Grunze. He received his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Cambridge, under the direction of Dr. Lionel Clarke. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, a Fellow of the Institute of Physics and a Fellow of the American Vacuum Society. The focus of Peter Dowben’s group is on measuring the occupied and unoccupied electronic structure of molecules, surfaces and solids.
Scientists are working to develop electronic devices that store and process information by manipulating a property of electrons called spin—a research area aptly known as spintronics. The semiconductors we are developing will not only be faster and cheaper than those used in conventional devices, but will also have more functionality.