Nuclear reactor pulse tracing using a CdZnTe electro-optic radiation detector

Kyle A. Nelson, Jeffrey A. Geuther, James L. Neihart, Todd A. Riedel, Ronald A. Rojeski, Philip B. Ugorowski, Douglas S. McGregor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


CdZnTe has previously been shown to operate as an electro-optic radiation detector by utilizing the Pockels effect to measure steady-state nuclear reactor power levels. In the present work, the detector response to reactor power excursion experiments was investigated. Peak power levels during an excursion were predicted to be between 965 MW and 1009 MW using the Fuchs-Nordheim and Fuchs-Hansen models and confirmed with experimental data from the Kansas State University TRIGA Mark II nuclear reactor. The experimental arrangement of the Pockels cell detector includes collimated laser light passing through a transparent birefringent crystal, located between crossed polarizers, and focused upon a photodiode. The birefringent crystal, CdZnTe in this case, is placed in a neutron beam emanating from a nuclear reactor beam port. After obtaining the voltage-dependent Pockels characteristic response curve with a photodiode, neutron measurements were conducted from reactor pulses with the Pockels cell set at the 1/4 and 3/4 wave bias voltages. The detector responses to nuclear reactor pulses were recorded in real-time using data logging electronics, each showing a sharp increase in photodiode current for the 1/4 wave bias, and a sharp decrease in photodiode current for the 3/4 wave bias. The polarizers were readjusted to equal angles in which the maximum light transmission occurred at 0 V bias, thereby, inverting the detector response to reactor pulses. A high sample rate oscilloscope was also used to more accurately measure the FWHM of the pulse from the electro-optic detector, 64 ms, and is compared to the experimentally obtained FWHM of 16.0 ms obtained with the 10B-lined counter.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-102
Number of pages6
JournalNuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research, Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment
StatePublished - Jul 11 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Instrumentation


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