CORDIS - EU research results

NAno SCintillator ARrays (NASCAR) as a Novel Nuclear Detection Material

Project description

Novel nanotechnology could help prevent nuclear terrorism

Plutonium, uranium-233 and uranium enriched in the isotopes uranium-233 or uranium-235 are a special category of nuclear materials. Although only mildly radioactive, these so-called special nuclear materials are of concern because they are ‘fissionable,’ meaning they could be used in extremely destructive nuclear explosives. Their low rate of spontaneous emission makes them easy to shield and difficult to detect. With the support of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions programme, the NASCAR project is developing nanostructured devices capable of highly efficient sensing and combining low-cost manufacture with environmentally friendly and widely available materials. The technology could play a key role in the prevention of nuclear terrorism.


Detection of special nuclear materials (SNM), is of vital importance to prevent nuclear terrorism and to secure states’ national security. Neutron detection is a particularly useful tool to identify SNM and neutron-sensitive scintillators have many promising properties, such as ease of use, good time resolution, and high detection efficiency. In this project we develop a new state-of-the art neutron sensitive scintillator using on nanostructured scintillating materials. Based on the early advancements that our research team has made, we propose Li (or B) incorporated nanostructured ZnO devices for highly efficient thermal neutron detection. These devices use a novel nanorod array design that greatly increases the effective surface area and efficiency of the sensor. Cost effective low temperature hydrothermal growth is used to obtain ZnO nanorod arrays. The state-of-the-art design of the nanorod array combines the key advantages of a low cost growth technique together with environmentally friendly and widely available materials.

The Global Fellow (GF) has outstanding experience in Nuclear Science and Technology and has wide expertise in radiation and nuclear physics. The supervisor at the partner organization (Georgia Tech, USA) is a renowned Professor in radiation physics and holds a highly relevant patent. The supervisor at the beneficiary organisation (University of Surrey, UK), has a strong background in the physics of materials for new detectors and has recently developed novel nanocomposite scintillators and organic neutron detectors, both of which are highly relevant to the project. The GF worked on neutron measurements under the supervision of the host at Georgia Tech between 2013-2015, and therefore has the required expertise to deliver this program through effective collaboration with both partner institutions.


Net EU contribution
€ 289 732,80
Stag Hill
GU2 7XH Guildford
United Kingdom

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South East (England) Surrey, East and West Sussex West Surrey
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 289 732,80

Partners (1)