Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Nuclear Engineering

Major Professor

Jason P. Hayward

Committee Members

Lawrence H. Heilbronn, Mariya Zhuravleva, Qibing Pei


Plastic scintillators have uses in many fields including defense, high energy physics, health physics, and space applications. In recent years, work has been done to enhance a variety of plastic scintillator properties. These enhancements have largely targeted an increase of the intrinsic gamma efficiency, photopeak efficiency, mechanical robustness, the neutron pulse shape discrimination (PSD) figure of merit, and/or the timing resolution. This body of work seeks to examine these solutions both in a general radiation detection context and in the context of using the plastic scintillator as a frame component of a given detector system; in this work a hypothetical unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is used for guiding questions. This examination was accomplished through a series of mechanical properties measurements, a range of simulations using GEANT4 and MCNP, and radiation measurements which serve to validate the simulations as well as further characterize both existing and novel plastic scintillators in select configurations. In particular, basic science studies were conducted to understand, quantify, and/or demonstrate: 1) the mechanical properties of the scintillators and trade-offs which may exist when these are enhanced, 2) the effect on the mechanical properties when adding organometallic molecules to select plastic scintillator matrices, 3) the methods by which moduli measurements made with a dynamic mechanical analyzer may be compared to time-domain moduli measurements, 4) methods to simulate the radiation and optical response of plastic scintillators, including nanocomposites, using Geant4, 5) validation of a Geant4 workspace and aforementioned methods, 6) the simulated scale-up of EJ256 and a 24.5 wt/% ytterbium fluoride/PVT nanocomposite scintillator highlighting emergent trade-offs, 7) a method to deconvolve latent x-ray escape peaks from photopeaks in a gamma spectrum towards determining the energy resolution, 8) a python toolkit for rapidly simulating a mobile detector system, and 9) the Cramer-Rao lower bound on the timing resolution of EJ232Q in multiple sizes and configurations.


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