Status of h-BN quasi-bulk crystals and high efficiency neutron detectors


III-nitrides have fomented a revolution in the lighting industry and are poised to make a huge impact in the field of power electronics. In the III-nitride family, the crystal growth and use of hexagonal BN (h-BN) as an ultrawide bandgap (UWBG) semiconductor are much less developed. Bulk crystals of h-BN produced by the high-temperature/high-pressure and the metal flux solution methods possess very high crystalline and optical qualities but are impractical to serve as substrates or for device implementation as their sizes are typically in millimeters. The development of crystal growth technologies for producing thick epitaxial films (or quasi-bulk or semi-bulk crystals) in large wafer sizes with high crystalline quality is a prerequisite for utilizing h-BN as an UWBG electronic material. Compared to traditional III-nitrides, BN has another unique application as solid-state neutron detectors, which however, also require the development of quasi-bulk crystals to provide high detection efficiencies because the theoretical efficiency (ηi) relates to the detector thickness (d) by η i = 1 − e − d λ , where λ denotes the thermal neutron absorption length which is 47 μm (237 μm) for 10B-enriched (natural) h-BN. We provide an overview and recent progress toward the development of h-BN quasi-bulk crystals via hydride vapor phase epitaxy (HVPE) growth and the attainment of thermal neutron detectors based on 100 μm thick 10B-enriched h-BN with a record efficiency of 60%. The thermal neutron detection efficiency was shown to enhance at elevated temperatures. Benchmarking the crystalline and optical qualities of h-BN quasi-bulk crystals with the state-of-the-art mm-sized bulk crystal flakes and 0.5 μm thick epitaxial films identified that reducing the density of native defects such as vacancies remains the most critical task for h-BN quasi-bulk crystal growth by HVPE.


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Alemoush, Z., Tingsuwatit, A., Maity, A., Li, J., Lin, J.Y., & Jiang, H.X.. 2024. Status of h-BN quasi-bulk crystals and high efficiency neutron detectors. Journal of Applied Physics, 135(17).