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SiC detectors with active volume dimensions sufficient to stop alpha particles have been manufactured and tested. A linear energy response and excellent energy resolution have been obtained for various alpha emitters in the 3.18-MeV to 8.38-MeV energy range. Evaluation of the contributing factors to the SiC detector energy resolution indicates that the measured values for the full width at half maximum (FWHM) are limited by energy straggling of the alpha particles as they pass through the metallic contact layers that comprise the entrance window to the detector. Even with this component included in the measured FWHM, the measured values are comparable to those achievable with silicon alpha spectrometers. The possibility that the energy resolution that can be achieved with SiC may surpass that of silicon can not be excluded. SiC alpha spectrometers are expected to be useful in many nuclear applications where the ability to operate in high-temperature and high-radiation environments is required. Such applications include monitoring of alpha particles, neutrons, and low-energy gamma rays and X-rays in actinide waste-tank environments as well as neutron and gamma-ray monitoring of spent nuclear fuel assemblies.
Date of Publication: June 2006