Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Electrical Engineering


Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor

Tod V. Lauvick, PhD


Attention concerning the proliferation of nuclear weapons and materials has generated many research initiatives to detect, identify, and locate radiation emitted by actinides. In support of this effort, the `Fission Induced Neutron Detection of Nuclear Materials' (FIND'NM) program was established to comprise a joint effort to explore this issue. The objective also co-extends the Air Force Research Laboratory uranium dioxide (UO2) detection sample growth, characterization, and electrical interface research. AFIT's study accomplishes the design and fabrication of a space-tolerant PCB to support a UO2-based neutron detector. Further design considerations are made with the expectation of the platform to be inside an in-orbit satellite. The PCB will interface a satellite, which in turn will relay transferred data to researchers on the ground for later processing. The scope of the research is to provide a low-cost commercial-off-the-shelf solution with signal integrity and operational stability in mind. The study performed by LTC Dugan [16] and Lt Col Young [44] provided the basis from which the project stems. These circuit behavioral characteristics narrowed the components considered to accommodate the low-amplitude and fast-pulse output required from a device. Three distinct amplifier designs were required due to changes in the accepted theoretical electrical characteristics of the sensor. By circuit simulation, the three presented amplifier systems demonstrate the desired output for each sensor model, within a particular envelope of operation. The system can capture, collate, and disseminate data generated while operating within specified parameters. The completed and operational PCB presents a proof-of-concept that Space compliance devices can be made more cost-efficient by utilizing design aspects already included in larger system designs. The flexibility of the FPGA signal processing system can be used to try multiple operating configurations, ultimately resulting in an ASIC to further reduce the cost given large scale deployment of a unique design. Small detection devices like this could be installed on most orbital satellites and transmit data about areas of interest where actinide particle activity is detected.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number