In this work, we investigate the optimal thickness of a semiconductor diode for thin-film solid state thermal neutron detectors. We evaluate several diode materials, Si, CdTe, GaAs, C (diamond), and ZnO, and two neutron converter materials, 10B and 6LiF. Investigating a coplanar diode/converter geometry, we determine the minimum semiconductor thickness needed to achieve maximum neutron detection efficiency. By keeping the semiconductor thickness to a minimum, gamma rejection is kept as high as possible. In this way, we optimize detector performance for different thin-film semiconductor materials. © 2012 American Institute of Physics.