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ORNL's newly licensed neutron detector will advance human disease research
Date:9/6/2012

A neutron detector developed for studies focused on life science, drug discovery and materials technology has been licensed by PartTec Ltd. The Indiana-based manufacturer of radiation detection technologies is moving the technology developed at the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory toward the commercial marketplace.

The Neutron-Sensitive Anger Camera allows researchers to study a wider variety of crystalline structures, supporting studies in biology, earth science, geology, materials science and condensed matter physics.

"This ORNL detector system, developed for DOE's Spallation Neutron Source, can determine the time and position of the neutrons captured, enabling extremely accurate neutron time-of-flight measurements," said Yacouba Diawara of the Instrument and Source Design Division at ORNL.

The detector achieves very high efficiency, high timing and position resolution and low background noise at a reduced cost all characteristics that make it attractive for medical, biological and general scientific research.

"The detector is suited for biological samples because the protein crystals scientists are interested in are very small, about the size of a grain of sand," said Richard Riedel of the Instrument and Source Design Division at ORNL. "No other neutron detectors are suited for viewing these complex proteins at a pulsed neutron source."

The ORNL research team optimized an existing technology called the Anger Camera named after its inventor, Hal Oscar Anger by improving the detector's ability to view the atomic structure of crystals, such as those composed of protein macromolecules.

Previous neutron detectors struggled to resolve crystals smaller than 2 millimeters, but ORNL's system can clearly detect 1-millimeter and smaller crystals. This capability is important not only for biological crystals but also for small crystals that are subject to extremely high pressures using a
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Contact: Jennifer Brouner
brounerjm@ornl.gov
865-241-9515
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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