Description: The Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) has developed a method to produce a thicker (2-5mm) silicon drift detector (SDD) with significantly improved hard x-ray spectroscopy performance over current semiconductors (300µm). The NRL method uses gray tone lithography in combination with reactive ion etching (RIE) and deep reactive ion etching (DRIE) which allows for trenches with different depths to be etched into the semiconductor. When compared with conventional silicon PIN-photo-detectors of the same active area and thickness, SDD’s allow for better energy resolutions and lower detection thresholds resulting from the lower level of electronics noise arising from the smaller value of sensor capacitance.

Advantages/Features Include:

  • Improved hard X-ray spectroscopy
  • Better X-ray stopping power
  • Lower detection thresholds

Applications Include:

  • Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM)
  • Lead paint analysis
  • Counterfeit detection
  • Chemical contamination
  • X-ray fluorescence


  • "Thick Silicon Drift Detectors," Proceedings of the 2008 IEEE Nuclear Science Symposium, ISBN: 978-4244-2715-4, ISSN: 1082-3654.

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