Inrad Optics was recently honored with a 2015 CLEO/Laser Focus World Innovation Award in the “Optical Components Category” for its stilbene crystals for neutron detection. The award recognizes outstanding companies that have made major contributions to advancing the field of optics and photonics through recently launched products and services.

Stilbene is a unique crystal that emits lights in the presence of nuclear materials. Together with light sensors such as photomultiplier tubes and photon counting modules, this valuable scintillation crystal can be used as an alarm system to detect nuclear radiation. Applications include physics research, nuclear facility monitoring, and critical security and defense initiatives, for example, large area scanning of vehicles and containers at international ports.

First characterized in 1949, trans-stilbene (C14H12) continues to be the material of choice for fast neutron detection. However, until recently it has been difficult to produce sizes large enough to be effectively used as a scintillator because crystals were limited in growth to only a few millimeters. New efforts at Inrad Optics and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), supported by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, are now enabling production of stilbene crystals in large quantities and a variety of form factors. Working together with LLNL and using funding from the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, we have advanced stilbene crystal growth technology to the point of producing commercially available material. Plates, disks, bars and cylinders have all been successfully produced within a carefully controlled process environment that enables fabrication of finished parts with excellent yields.

Since 2013, we have delivered commercial stilbene to universities, national labs, commercial integrators and OEMs for use in handheld detectors, portable imaging arrays and large panel stationary screening systems. Initial results are proving stilbene to be highly effective in radiation detection applications. Both standard and custom sizes are readily available.  

Eight Cylinder Detector