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Alan K. Thompson

Dr. Thompson joined NIST in 1991 at the start of the Polarized 3He Neutron Spin Filter Project. His research interests expanded to include neutron fundamental physics experiments (including the "emiT” experiment, the Magnetically Trapped Neutron Lifetime Experiment, and the radiative neutron decay experiment), Neutron Device Calibrations, neutron spectroscopy, and testing semiconductors for neutron-induced soft fails.

In recent years Dr. Thompson has continued to calibrate neutron detectors within NIST calibration services, but expanded his device testing to assist the Department of Homeland Security in its Neutron Detector Replacement Program.

As part of the world-wide effort to find an alternative to 3He in neutron detectors, Dr. Thompson is currently involved in the effort to develop a neutron detector based on noble gas scintillation after a thermal-neutron induced nuclear reaction, this research has resulted in two patents. He is also working on the Neutron Cross Section Standards project and a new project to develop alternative standard neutron sources based on neutron generators for instrument calibrations.

Dr. Thompson contributes his time and energy to the broader NIST community by chairing the Ionizing Radiation Safety Committee.

Dr. Thompson's two patents:

  • Charles W. Clark, Patrick P. Hughes, Michael Alan Coplan, Alan Keith Thompson, Robert E. Vest, Noble-gas-excimer detectors of slow neutrons, U.S. Patent 8816296
  • Alan Keith Thompson, Charles W. Clark, Michael A. Coplan, Apparatus and method for detecting slow neutrons by lyman alpha radiation, U.S. Patent 7791045
Photograph of Alan K. Thompson


Radiation Physics Division
Neutron Physics Group

Employment History:

1993 - present: NIST

1991 - 1993: Harvard University

1986-1991: Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Ph.D., Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1991


Phone: 301-975-4666
Email: alan.thompson@nist.gov
Fax: 301-926-1604