Development of New Generation Portable Neutron Detectors

Anton Vacheret case studyResearch by Dr Antonin Vacheret of the University of Oxford

In collaboration with Professor Alfons Weber of the University of Oxford and their project partner Kromek Ltd

New research is enhancing the development of portable neutron detectors, a crucial tool needed for detecting the illicit trafficking of radioactive material that could be used to make nuclear and dirty bombs.

The research, led by Dr Antonin Vacheret of the University of Oxford, was funded by the Science and Technology facilities council (STFC) and accredited to the Partnership for Conflict, Crime and Security Research.

‘This new technology centres on the detection of neutrons and is based on the use of solid Lithium-6 as a replacement to the current Helium-3 system,’ said Dr Vacheret.

‘Currently most neutron detectors are based on Helium-3 gas tubes, and the current shortage of these tubes means that supply can no longer meet demand. Our project aims to utilise solid Lithium-6 in order to reduce costs while enhancing performance.’

‘We have developed a technology that is flexible and scalable, allowing it to meet a wide range of design requirements, including handheld and backpack detectors, along with detectors that can be fitted to mobile units and used in large area monitoring.’


Through the MARS project at the University of Oxford, Dr Vacheret and his team have been successful in developing partnerships with industry and academia.

Further to this, they have successfully developed a portable Lithium-6 neutron detector and are now working closely with Isis Innovation and Kromek Ltd commercialisation partner to prepare the product for market entry in mid-2015.

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