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Gallium oxide holds promise for X-ray detectors


North Carolina State University team says the material works fast and is able to withstand high levels of radiation

New research from North Carolina State University finds that radiation detectors making use of single-crystal Ga2O3 allow for monitoring X-ray radiation in near-real time.

"We found that the Ga2O3 radiation detector worked very fast, which could offer benefits to many applications such as medical imaging," says Ge Yang, an assistant professor of nuclear engineering at NC State and corresponding author of a paper on the work. "This is particularly exciting because recent research tells us that Ga2O3has excellent radiation hardness - meaning it will keep doing its job even when exposed to high amounts of radiation.

"In short, we think this material is faster than many existing materials used in X-ray detection - and able to withstand higher levels of radiation."

For this study, the researchers made a radiation detector that incorporated a single-crystal sample of Ga2O3 with electrodes attached on either side. The researchers applied different bias voltages across the Ga2O3 while exposing the material to X-ray radiation.

The researchers found that there was a linear increase in current passing out of the Ga2O3 relative to the level of X-ray exposure. In other words, the higher the level of X-ray radiation exposure, the higher the increase in current from the Ga2O3.

"This linear relationship, coupled with the fast response time and radiation hardness, make this a very exciting material for use in radiation detector technologies," Yang says. "These could be used in conjunction with medical imaging technologies, or in security applications like those found at airports."

'Fast X-ray detectors based on bulk β-Ga2O3 (Fe)' by Ibrahim Hany et al; Journal of Materials Science 2020

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