Silverside’s Technology

Cost-Effective Nuclear Detection

  • Cost effective Detection

  • Silverside’s core commitment is to creating cost-effective excellence in detection technology.

    We use the “cost-per-count” value, or C-value, to represent the relationship between detector efficiency and affordability.



Three interrelated factors contribute to making the most effective detector for the price—in short, the highest-value detector:

  • Detection Capture Area


    A detector can only give a signal if the neutron hits it. The larger the surface area the detector the more neutrons it will capture—just imagine how many raindrops will hit a large blanket as compared to a small washcloth.

  • conversion icon


    Once the neutron hits the detector, the efficiency of the conversion material determines what percentage of the neutrons pass through the undetected, and what percentage are converted into a signal. Helium 3 gas (He-3) is the gold standard for conversion material, with higher conversion rates than Lithium 6 (Li-6), Boron 10 (B-10), and other conversion materials.

  • cost


    It is possible to build large-surface-area detectors with any conversion material, but it is not always economically feasible. The price of He-3, for example, makes a large-area detector prohibitively expensive. The practical constraint of limited budgets forces consideration of a trade-off: what is the optimal trade-off of capture area and conversion efficiency in order to maximize detection of neutrons?



The “Counts-per-Cost” Ratio, or the “C-Ratio,” allows us to optimize detection capacity for a limited security budget. The key question:

For a budget of $X, how much detection capacity can I buy?

Silverside uses one number, the “C-value” to make this comparison.

C-Ratio = (capture area) x (conversion efficiency) / (detector cost)



  • The numerator measures the # of radiation counts the detector receives, as this is the product of:

    • Detection Capture Area

    • How many particles (gamma rays or neutrons) hit the detector

    • Conversion Efficiency

    • How many of the neutrons that hit the area are detected

    • Detection Capture Area

    • The denominator is the cost of the detector, which largely depends on the price of the conversion material.





While He-3 is the gold standard for conversion efficiency, its high price limits the volume that is available for detector construction. The capture area of He-3 detectors is small by necessity, lowering its C-Ratio in comparison to detectors that use less efficient material but achieve a larger conversion area.

With a new priority of minimizing detection cost in order to build networks of radiation sensors, the C-Ratio allows Silverside to maximize not just detector effectiveness, but of detector value.