Nuclear Engineering ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-13-2020


This paper investigates the correlation of damage induced by neutron interactions and degradation in the spectra of HPGe detectors. As neutrons kinetically interact with germanium crystals, they create interstitial and vacancy defects within the lattice. These defects then interfere with the charge migration of electron-hole pairs and reduce resolution in the observed energy spectrum. The partial charge collection produces observable spectral changes by increasing the peak width and reducing resolution (full width half maximum). A detailed characterization using various check sources was performed before and after iterations of neutron exposure in order to observe the effects of the neutron damage. An additional set of measurements was performed along with characterizations to show the detector’s response at discrete locations on the HPGe crystal. This was done to observe how the spectrum changes when the gamma rays are isolated to regions of various thicknesses of germanium. In order to impart damage, the detector was placed inside a californium shuffler with the face of the detector against the guide tube for the 252Cf source. For irradiation of the HPGe, the source was then positioned in front of the face of the detector using the stepper motor of the shuffler. The neutron exposure time intervals were recorded and increased based on the initial damage observed. An MCNP simulation was performed to estimate the amount of interactions that occurred in the germanium crystal to ensure enough damage had occurred. Studying the effects that neutron damage imparts on a bullet-type HPGe detector can help provide necessary data to estimate total neutron exposure limits, reduce the likelihood of decisions made on suspect data, and aid in diagnostics of a damaged detector.


HPGe Neutron Damage

Document Type




Degree Name

Nuclear Engineering

Level of Degree


Department Name

Nuclear Engineering

First Committee Member (Chair)

Adam A. Hecht

Second Committee Member

Anil K. Prinja

Third Committee Member

Douglas R. Mayo