A custom integrated circuit for detecting alpha particles for application in the monitoring of radon has been designed and tested. The design uses the reverse-biased well to substrate capacitance of a p-n junction in a conventional CMOS process as a sense capacitor for incident alpha particles. A simple CMOS inverter is used as an analog amplifier to detect the small potential change induced by an alpha-particle strike on the sense capacitor. The design was implemented in a 1.2-μm conventional CMOS process with a sense capacitor area of 110 μm2. Tests carried out under vacuum conditions using a calibrated 241 Am alpha-particle source showed an output voltage swing of > 2.0 V for an alpha event. The detector is also shown to have good immunity to noise and high-quantum efficiency for alpha particles.

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IEEE Transactions on Nuclear Science
Department of Electronics

Ahmed, A., Walkey, D.J., & Tarr, N.G. (1997). A CMOS integrated pulse mode alpha-particle counter for application in radon monitoring. IEEE Transactions on Nuclear Science, 44(3 PART 3), 1425–1430. doi:10.1109/23.588588