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We report on the acquisition and modeling of the transient response of a commercial silicon (Si) solar cell using a benchtop pulsed X-ray source. The solar-cell transient output to the X-ray pulses was acquired under the dark and steady-state light illumination to mimic the practical operation of a solar cell under different light illumination levels. A solar-cell circuit model was created to develop a fundamental understanding of the transient current/voltage response of solar cell at read-out circuit level. The model was validated by a good agreement between the simulation and experimental results. It was found that the solar-cell resistance ( R ) and capacitance ( C ) depend on the light illumination, and the resulting variation in RC time constant significantly affects the solar-cell transient response. Thus, the solar cell produced different transient signals under different illumination intensities in response to the same X-ray pulse. The experimental data acquired in this work proves the feasibility of using solar panels for prompt detection of nuclear detonations, which also builds a practical mode of X-ray detection using a low-cost self-powered detector.


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IEEE Transactions on Nuclear Science