Effect of 150 MeV protons on carbon nanotubes for fabrication of a radiation detector

High energy and high flux protons are used in proton therapy and the impact of proton radiation is a major reliability concern for electronics and solar cells in low earth orbit as well as in the trapped belts. Carbon nanotubes (CNTs), due to their unique characteristics, have been considered for the construction of proton and other radiation sensors. Here, a single wall CNT based proton sensor was fabricated on FR4 substrate and its response to 150 MeV proton irradiation was studied. The change in the resistance of the nanotubes upon irradiation is exploited as the sensing mechanism and the sensor shows good sensitivity to proton radiation. Proton radiation induces dissociation of ambient oxygen, followed by the adsorption of oxygen species on the nanotube surface, which influences its electrical characteristics. Since the nanotube film is thin and the 150 MeV protons are expected to penetrate into and interact with the substrate, control experiments were conducted to study the impact on FR4 substrate without the nanotubes. The dielectric loss tangent or dissipation factor of FR4 increases after irradiation due to an increase in the cross-linking of the resin arising from the degradation of the polymer network.



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