Neutron semiconductor detectors for neutron counting and neutron radiography have an increasing importance. Simple silicon neutron detectors are combination of a planar diode with a layer of an appropriate neutron converter such as (LiF)-Li-6. These devices have limited detection efficiency of not more than 5%. The detection efficiency can be increased by creating a 3D microstructure of dips, trenches or pores in the detector and filling it with a neutron converter. The first results related to the development of such devices are presented. Silicon detectors were fabricated with pyramidal dips on the surface covered with (LiF)-Li-6 and then irradiated by thermal neutrons. Pulse height spectra of the energy deposited in the sensitive volume were compared with simulations. The detection efficiency of these devices was about 6.3%. Samples with different column sizes were fabricated to study the electrical properties of 3D structures. Charge collection efficiencies in silicon columns from 10 to 800 mu m wide and 80-200 mu m high were measured with alpha particles.
The neutron detection efficiency of a full 3D structure was simulated. The results indicate an increase in detection efficiency by a factor of 6 in comparison with a standard planar neutron detector.