A method is presented to selectively characterize the traps involved in the pumping procedure of diamond films. The pumping process strongly reduces the concentration of active carrier trapping centers, leading to an enhancement of electronic properties of such material, and is obtained by irradiating the diamond films with ionizing radiation. Since the improved transport properties lead to an increased efficiency when diamond films are used as radiation detectors, valuable information on this process can be obtained by analyzing the response of diamond based particle detectors. For this purpose a high-quality diamond film was grown by microwave chemical vapor deposition and a particle detector was realized. Its response to a 5.5-MeV 241Am α-particles was measured after successive annealing steps performed at different temperatures in the 180–228 °C range. Before each annealing curve at a given temperature, the detector was driven to the pumped state through β-particle irradiation. The efficiency versus annealing time curves evidence a thermally induced detrapping, confirming the pumping mechanism as a filling and consequent passivation of defects. The analysis of the decay time of the detector efficiency as a function of temperature allows the determination of the activation energy of these defects, which is Ea = 1.62±0.15 eV. © 2003 American Institute of Physics.