Analysis of a measured neutron background below 6 MeV for fast-neutron imaging systems

K. Ide, M. F. Becchetti, M. Flaska, A. Poitrasson-Riviere, M. C. Hamel, J. K. Polack, C. C. Lawrence, S. D. Clarke, S. A. Pozzi

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10 Scopus citations


Detailed and accurate information on the neutron background is relevant for many applications that involve radiation detection, both for non-coincidence and coincidence countings. In particular, for the purpose of developing advanced neutron-detection techniques for nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear safeguards, the energy-dependent, ground-level, neutron-background information is needed. There are only a few previous studies available about the neutron background below 10 MeV, which is a typical neutron energy range of interest for nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear-safeguards applications. Thus, there is a potential for further investigation in this energy range. In this paper, neutron-background measurement results using organic-liquid scintillation detectors are described and discussed, with a direct application in optimization simulations of a fast-neutron imager based on liquid scintillators. The measurement was performed in summer 2011 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA, and the measurement setup consisted of several EJ-309 liquid scintillators and a fast waveform digitizer. The average neutron flux below 6 MeV was measured to be approximately 4e-4 counts/cm 2/s. In addition, the relationship between the neutron-background count rate and various environmental quantities, such as humidity, at Earth's ground level was investigated and the results did not reveal any straightforward dependences. The measured pulse height distribution (PHD) was unfolded to determine the energy spectrum of the background neutrons. The unfolded neutron-background spectrum was implemented to a previously-created MCNPX-PoliMi model of the neutron-scatter camera and simple-backprojection images of the background neutrons were acquired. Furthermore, a simulated PHD was obtained with the MCNPX-PoliMi code using the Cosmic-Ray Shower Library (CRY) source sub-routine which returns various types of radiation, including neutrons and photons at a surface, and accounts for solar cycle, altitude, and geomagnetic deflection. Comparison between the measured and simulated PHDs shows very good agreement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24-31
Number of pages8
JournalNuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research, Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment
StatePublished - Dec 1 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Instrumentation


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