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K-State News
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DOD funds research to expand development of form-fitting circuitry

Monday, Feb. 1, 2021



MANHATTAN — The Radiological Systems Integration Laboratory at Kansas State University, in partnership with Radiation Detection Technologies Inc., Manhattan, has been awarded a nearly $1 million contract from the U.S. Department of Defense Threat Reduction Agency to produce more compact and form-fitting circuits than can be achieved with printed circuit boards.

Heading the two-year project is Walter McNeil, assistant professor in the Alan Levin Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering at K-State, where the portion of funding for the study, "Discrete 3D Electronics for Radiation Detection Systems," will be $640,931.

McNeil directs the Radiological Systems Integration Laboratory that develops radiation-sensing systems, mechanical and electronic technology, and innovative sensing instrumentation that can be used in remote and rugged environments.

"But the focus for this funding opportunity," McNeil said, "will be the miniaturization and portability of these form-fitting circuits, which are critical for military, domestic security and human health monitoring."

The work will incorporate the 3D printing of electronic circuits using discrete electronic components to form the unique circuits. The concept will be applied to advanced mobile radiation-detection systems that contain low-noise, high-gain and high-voltage analog circuitry, along with high-speed digital processing tools having algorithmic capability.

To execute a 3D circuit layout, a $330,000 machine will be employed that combines 3D printing with traditional pick-and-place circuit board fabrication tools. The goal will be to create a prototype radiation-detection system for gamma ray and neutron detection that leverages 3D electronics to reduce size, weight and power.

"Electronic circuits of the future may not be on flat printed circuit boards but rather additively manufactured in 3D to form more compact and irregular shapes," McNeil said. "Furthermore, circuits might be additively manufactured as an integrated solution with mechanical structural components or housings to form intelligent functional materials."

The research will educate students and advance the technology used primarily for emergency response personnel in radiological incident response as well as military applications. In turn it will expand the infrastructure to create capabilities in advanced manufacturing.


Walter McNeil


Radiological Systems Integration Laboratory


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Walter McNeil

Walter McNeil, assistant professor of mechanical and nuclear engineering at Kansas State University.

Written by

Mary Rankin