X-Ray Detector for Studying Characteristics of Materials

Modern synchrotron x-ray sources, such as the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron (CHESS), produce x-ray beams with unprecedented capabilities. Scientists and engineers use the beams to study the properties of materials as they are subjected to rapid changes in environmental conditions.

Sol M. Gruner’s group, Physics, has been a leader in the development of x-ray detectors for scientific synchrotron applications, and the team’s technology is used around the world. Their detectors utilize pixelated integrated circuit silicon layers to absorb x-rays to produce electrical signals. The wide dynamic range, high sensitivity, and rapid image frame rate of the detectors enable many time-resolved x-ray experiments that have been difficult to perform until now.

The detectors are limited by the silicon layer. Low atomic number materials such as silicon become increasingly transparent to x-rays as the energy of the x-rays rises. Gruner’s group is now developing a variant of their detector that will use semiconductors comprised of high atomic weight elements to absorb the x-rays and produce the resultant electrical signals. The Detector Group, led by Antonio Miceli, at the United States Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source (APS) will simultaneously develop the ancillary electronics and interfacing required to produce fully functional prototypes suitable for high x-ray energy experiments at the APS and CHESS.

Examples of experiments enabled by the detector would include investigations into the development of cracks in steels and alloys used for airplanes and turbines, of nuclear reactor fuel rod materials, the strength of three-dimensional printed metals and ceramics, and metal welds. The detector would also allow for in-situ time-resolved studies of storage batteries and research on making impact-resistant substances for a variety of applications.

Cornell Researchers

Funding Received

$1.8 Million spanning 3 years