Semiconductor X-Ray Detectors: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Semiconductor X-Ray Detectors

1st Edition

By B. G. Lowe, R. A. Sareen

CRC Press

624 pages | 16 Color Illus. | 343 B/W Illus.

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Identifying and measuring the elemental x-rays released when materials are examined with particles (electrons, protons, alpha particles, etc.) or photons (x-rays and gamma rays) is still considered to be the primary analytical technique for routine and non-destructive materials analysis. The Lithium Drifted Silicon (Si(Li)) X-Ray Detector, with its good resolution and peak to background, pioneered this type of analysis on electron microscopes, x-ray fluorescence instruments, and radioactive source- and accelerator-based excitation systems. Although rapid progress in Silicon Drift Detectors (SDDs), Charge Coupled Devices (CCDs), and Compound Semiconductor Detectors, including renewed interest in alternative materials such as CdZnTe and diamond, has made the Si(Li) X-Ray Detector nearly obsolete, the device serves as a useful benchmark and still is used in special instances where its large, sensitive depth is essential.

Semiconductor X-Ray Detectors focuses on the history and development of Si(Li) X-Ray Detectors, an important supplement to the knowledge now required to achieve full understanding of the workings of SDDs, CCDs, and Compound Semiconductor Detectors. The book provides an up-to-date review of the principles, practical applications, and state of the art of semiconductor x-ray detectors. It describes many of the facets of x-ray detection and measurement using semiconductors, from manufacture to implementation. The initial chapters present a self-contained summary of relevant background physics, materials science, and engineering aspects. Later chapters compare and contrast the assembly and physical properties of systems and materials currently employed, enabling readers to fully understand the materials and scope for applications.

Table of Contents


The Detector and Charge Sensitive Preamplifier: A System Overview

The Transducer

Why Semiconductors?

Fermi-Dirac Statistics

Doping of Semiconductors

The p-n Junction Barrier

Charge Generation by Radiation

Pulse Height Analysis

X-Ray Spectroscopy


Leakage Current

Typical Noise Values


Detector Response Function F(E)

Categorization of Semiconductor Detectors

The Lithium Drifted Silicon Detector (Si(Li))

The Silicon Drift Detector (SDD)

Detector Response Function

The Hypermet Function

Monte-Carlo Calculations

Physical Processes and the Analytical Approach

Peak Broadening - The Fano Factor

Charge Collection Efficiency Function

Generation of Spectral Response Function

Charge-Loss Mechanisms

Charge Gains

Detector Artifacts

Field Distortion

The Spur


Ghost Peaks

Compton Scatter


Absorption Edges

Sum Peaks

Electron Contamination



Parameters Influencing ICC


Diffused Junction Contacts

Ion-Implanted Contacts

Surface Barrier Contacts

Low Injection Contacts

Edge Termination of Contacts

Radiation Damage

Si(Li) X-Ray Detectors

Manufacture of Si(Li) Detectors

The Legacy of Contouring

Losing the Process

HPSi and HPGe X-Ray Detectors

HPSi X-Ray Detectors

HPGe X-Ray Detectors


X-Ray Detectors Based on Silicon Lithography and Planar Technology

Silicon p-i-n Diodes

Avalanche Photo-diodes (APDs)

Pixelated X-Ray Detectors (PXDs)

CCD-Based X-Ray detectors


Techniques of Scientific CCDs

The Performance of MOS-CCD X-Ray Detectors

The pn-CCD

CCDs Summary

Silicon Drift Detectors


Concentric Ring SDD X-Ray Detectors

Droplet SDD X-Ray Detectors

SDD Performance

SDD Manufacture

SDD Summary

Wide Band-Gap Semiconductors

The Candidates

General Comments on WBGS

The Present Status of the WBGS X-Ray Detectors


The History of Semiconductor X-Ray Detectors


The Beginnings

The Development of Materials during World War II

1940-1960: Crystal Counters

1940s: The Role of National Labs, Bell Telephone Labs, and other Corporations

The Story of Silicon and Germanium

Other Materials

1960-66: Progress in Detector Manufacture and Spectroscopy

Surface States and Nature’s Gift of SiO2

Processing and Passivation

1960s: The Evolution of Detector Geometries


1960s: Lithium Compensation

1960-1966: Amplifiers

1966-71: Pulsed Optical Restore

Applications on the Horizon

The Companies

1970s and 1980s: Evolution in the Commercial Environment

1970s and 1980s: Low Energy EDXMA

1987: The Kevex Quantum Window: Convenience verses Performance

High Purity Germanium and Silicon

1990s: HPGe X-Ray Detectors

1990s: Bespoke FETs

Convenience verses Performance: A New Approach

SDD: The Influence of Nuclear Physics Again

SDDs as X-Ray Detectors

The SDD EDXRS Companies

The Future

About the Authors

Author of over 20 publications and the "conditioner" patent for Si(Li) X-Ray Detectors, B. G. Lowe holds a Ph.D from Liverpool University, UK. He has served as commonwealth education officer for University of Columbo, Sri Lanka; lecturer for University of Science-Malaysia, Penang, and North East Wales Institute of Higher Education, UK; chief physicist for Link Systems Ltd, London, UK; physics director, head of development, and senior scientist for Oxford Instruments, London, UK; and senior scientist for e2V Scientific, High Wycombe, UK. He also worked on the UK government-sponsored IMPACT project and CdZnTe detectors at Leicester University, UK.

Author of over 15 publications and two patents, R. A. Sareen holds a Ph.D from Manchester University, UK. He has served as research scientist for Ortec, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, USA; founder of Nuclan Ltd, London, UK; technical, managing, main board, and executive director for Link Systems Ltd, London, UK (now Oxford Instruments) and UEI London, UK; researcher at Manchester University; and shareholder in Link Systems Ltd, Gresham Power Electronics and Gresham Scientific Instruments Ltd, Salisbury, UK, and Camscan, Cambridge, UK. A Royal Microscopical Society and Institute of Physics fellow, he has liaised with several UK government departments, including security services, and participated in nuclear strategy and homeland security committees.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SCIENCE / Astrophysics & Space Science
SCIENCE / Physics