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Synthetic diamond radiation detectors made of ultrahigh-purity type IIa diamond crystals were developed. The diamond crystals, which were grown by high-pressure and high-temperature synthesis, contained less nitrogen impurity than 0.1 ppm, i.e., 1/10 of conventional type IIa diamond crystals. Since the ultrahigh-purity type IIa diamond crystal was a p-type semiconductor due to a trace impurity of boron, a structure consisting of Schottky and ohmic contacts was adopted for the detectors to suppress an increase in leakage current. For the same purpose, a metal–insulator–semiconductor structure using a chemical vapor deposition diamond insulating layer was adopted for one of the detectors. Plural peaks were observed in the 5.486 MeV α energy spectra obtained by the detectors; motion of holes produced the main part of output pulses from the detectors on these measurements. One of the peaks in each spectrum was hardly influenced by light irradiation, even ultraviolet light of 370 nm (3.4 eV), compared with a peak obtained by the conventional type IIa diamond radiation detector. This experimental result indicated that there was a superior part in the crystal where deep energy levels did not exist so much. Although there was no direct evidence, influence of a distribution of the boron impurity in the crystal was expected. On the other hand, electron trapping severely occurred and resulted in loss in charge collection; an effect of the reduction in the nitrogen impurity was not confirmed on the behavior of electrons. © 2001 American Institute of Physics.