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Title: Estimating the Effective System Dead Time Parameter for Correlated Neutron Counting

Abstract

We present that neutron time correlation analysis is one of the main technical nuclear safeguards techniques used to verify declarations of, or to independently assay, special nuclear materials. Quantitative information is generally extracted from the neutron-event pulse train, collected from moderated assemblies of 3He proportional counters, in the form of correlated count rates that are derived from event-triggered coincidence gates. These count rates, most commonly referred to as singles, doubles and triples rates etc., when extracted using shift-register autocorrelation logic, are related to the reduced factorial moments of the time correlated clusters of neutrons emerging from the measurement items. Correcting these various rates for dead time losses has received considerable attention recently. The dead time losses for the higher moments in particular, and especially for large mass (high rate and highly multiplying) items, can be significant. Consequently, even in thoughtfully designed systems, accurate dead time treatments are needed if biased mass determinations are to be avoided. In support of this effort, in this paper we discuss a new approach to experimentally estimate the effective system dead time of neutron coincidence counting systems. It involves counting a random neutron source (e.g. AmLi is a good approximation to a source without correlatedmore » emission) and relating the second and higher moments of the neutron number distribution recorded in random triggered interrogation coincidence gates to the effective value of dead time parameter. We develop the theoretical basis of the method and apply it to the Oak Ridge Large Volume Active Well Coincidence Counter using sealed AmLi radionuclide neutron sources and standard multiplicity shift register electronics. The method is simple to apply compared to the predominant present approach which involves using a set of 252Cf sources of wide emission rate, it gives excellent precision in a conveniently short time, and it yields consistent results as a function of the order of the moment used to extract the dead time parameter. In addition, this latter observation is reassuring in that it suggests the assumptions underpinning the theoretical analysis are fit for practical application purposes. However, we found that the effective dead time parameter obtained is not constant, as might be expected for a parameter that in the dead time model is characteristic of the detector system, but rather, varies systematically with gate width.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [1]; ORCiD logo [2];  [1];  [1]
  1. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
  2. Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE NA Office of Nonproliferation and Verification Research and Development (NA-22)
OSTI Identifier:
1356142
Report Number(s):
LA-UR-16-29157
Journal ID: ISSN 0168-9002; TRN: US1702499
Grant/Contract Number:
AC52-06NA25396
Resource Type:
Journal Article: Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research. Section A, Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 871; Journal ID: ISSN 0168-9002
Publisher:
Elsevier
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
98 NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT, SAFEGUARDS, AND PHYSICAL PROTECTION; neutron coincidence counting; multiplicity counting; dead time correction; fissile material assay

Citation Formats

Croft, Stephen, Cleveland, Steve, Favalli, Andrea, McElroy, Robert D., and Simone, Angela T. Estimating the Effective System Dead Time Parameter for Correlated Neutron Counting. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.1016/j.nima.2017.04.042.
Croft, Stephen, Cleveland, Steve, Favalli, Andrea, McElroy, Robert D., & Simone, Angela T. Estimating the Effective System Dead Time Parameter for Correlated Neutron Counting. United States. doi:10.1016/j.nima.2017.04.042.
Croft, Stephen, Cleveland, Steve, Favalli, Andrea, McElroy, Robert D., and Simone, Angela T. Sat . "Estimating the Effective System Dead Time Parameter for Correlated Neutron Counting". United States. doi:10.1016/j.nima.2017.04.042. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1356142.
@article{osti_1356142,
title = {Estimating the Effective System Dead Time Parameter for Correlated Neutron Counting},
author = {Croft, Stephen and Cleveland, Steve and Favalli, Andrea and McElroy, Robert D. and Simone, Angela T.},
abstractNote = {We present that neutron time correlation analysis is one of the main technical nuclear safeguards techniques used to verify declarations of, or to independently assay, special nuclear materials. Quantitative information is generally extracted from the neutron-event pulse train, collected from moderated assemblies of 3He proportional counters, in the form of correlated count rates that are derived from event-triggered coincidence gates. These count rates, most commonly referred to as singles, doubles and triples rates etc., when extracted using shift-register autocorrelation logic, are related to the reduced factorial moments of the time correlated clusters of neutrons emerging from the measurement items. Correcting these various rates for dead time losses has received considerable attention recently. The dead time losses for the higher moments in particular, and especially for large mass (high rate and highly multiplying) items, can be significant. Consequently, even in thoughtfully designed systems, accurate dead time treatments are needed if biased mass determinations are to be avoided. In support of this effort, in this paper we discuss a new approach to experimentally estimate the effective system dead time of neutron coincidence counting systems. It involves counting a random neutron source (e.g. AmLi is a good approximation to a source without correlated emission) and relating the second and higher moments of the neutron number distribution recorded in random triggered interrogation coincidence gates to the effective value of dead time parameter. We develop the theoretical basis of the method and apply it to the Oak Ridge Large Volume Active Well Coincidence Counter using sealed AmLi radionuclide neutron sources and standard multiplicity shift register electronics. The method is simple to apply compared to the predominant present approach which involves using a set of 252Cf sources of wide emission rate, it gives excellent precision in a conveniently short time, and it yields consistent results as a function of the order of the moment used to extract the dead time parameter. In addition, this latter observation is reassuring in that it suggests the assumptions underpinning the theoretical analysis are fit for practical application purposes. However, we found that the effective dead time parameter obtained is not constant, as might be expected for a parameter that in the dead time model is characteristic of the detector system, but rather, varies systematically with gate width.},
doi = {10.1016/j.nima.2017.04.042},
journal = {Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research. Section A, Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment},
number = ,
volume = 871,
place = {United States},
year = {Sat Apr 29 00:00:00 EDT 2017},
month = {Sat Apr 29 00:00:00 EDT 2017}
}

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  • The expressions given for φ, the ratio of effective system dead time to gate width, are wrong for the case of the third and fourth order forms because the simple square root is used when the 3rd and 4th roots, respectively, are required. We failed to notice during proof reading that this change from the submitted manuscript had crept in. The correct form should, however, be clear from the steps of the derivations outlined in the text; and so we hope our mistake has not misled anyone.
  • Time-Correlated Single Photon Counting (TCSPC) has been long recognized as the most sensitive method for fluorescence lifetime measurements, but often requiring “long” data acquisition times. This drawback is related to the limited counting capability of the TCSPC technique, due to pile-up and counting loss effects. In recent years, multi-module TCSPC systems have been introduced to overcome this issue. Splitting the light into several detectors connected to independent TCSPC modules proportionally increases the counting capability. Of course, multi-module operation also increases the system cost and can cause space and power supply problems. In this paper, we propose an alternative approach basedmore » on a new detector and processing electronics designed to reduce the overall system dead time, thus enabling efficient photon collection at high excitation rate. We present a fast active quenching circuit for single-photon avalanche diodes which features a minimum dead time of 12.4 ns. We also introduce a new Time-to-Amplitude Converter (TAC) able to attain extra-short dead time thanks to the combination of a scalable array of monolithically integrated TACs and a sequential router. The fast TAC (F-TAC) makes it possible to operate the system towards the upper limit of detector count rate capability (∼80 Mcps) with reduced pile-up losses, addressing one of the historic criticisms of TCSPC. Preliminary measurements on the F-TAC are presented and discussed.« less
  • Here, neutron multiplicity counting using shift-register calculus is an established technique in the science of international nuclear safeguards for the identification, verification, and assay of special nuclear materials. Typically passive counting is used for Pu and mixed Pu-U items and active methods are used for U materials. Three measured counting rates, singles, doubles and triples are measured and, in combination with a simple analytical point-model, are used to calculate characteristics of the measurement item in terms of known detector and nuclear parameters. However, the measurement problem usually involves more than three quantities of interest, but even in cases where themore » next higher order count rate, quads, is statistically viable, it is not quantitatively applied because corrections for dead time losses are currently not available in the predominant analysis paradigm. In this work we overcome this limitation by extending the commonly used dead time correction method, developed by Dytlewski, to quads. We also give results for pents, which may be of interest for certain special investigations. Extension to still higher orders, may be accomplished by inspection based on the sequence presented. We discuss the foundations of the Dytlewski method, give limiting cases, and highlight the opportunities and implications that these new results expose. In particular there exist a number of ways in which the new results may be combined with other approaches to extract the correlated rates, and this leads to various practical implementations.« less
    Cited by 1
  • Over the past few decades, neutron multiplicity counting has played an integral role in Special Nuclear Material (SNM) characterization pertaining to nuclear safeguards. Current neutron multiplicity analysis techniques use singles, doubles, and triples count rates because a methodology to extract and dead time correct higher order count rates (i.e. quads and pents) was not fully developed. This limitation is overcome by the recent extension of a popular dead time correction method developed by Dytlewski. This extended dead time correction algorithm, named Dytlewski-Croft-Favalli (DCF), is detailed in reference Croft and Favalli (2017), which gives an extensive explanation of the theory andmore » implications of this new development. Dead time corrected results can then be used to assay SNM by inverting a set of extended point model equations which as well have only recently been formulated. Here, we discuss and present the experimental evaluation of practical feasibility of the DCF dead time correction algorithm to demonstrate its performance and applicability in nuclear safeguards applications. In order to test the validity and effectiveness of the dead time correction for quads and pents, 252Cf and SNM sources were measured in high efficiency neutron multiplicity counters at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and the count rates were extracted up to the fifth order and corrected for dead time. To assess the DCF dead time correction, the corrected data is compared to traditional dead time correction treatment within INCC. In conclusion, the DCF dead time correction is found to provide adequate dead time treatment for broad range of count rates available in practical applications.« less
  • A novel method for measuring dead time in nuclear pulse processing circuitry has been developed using the autocorrelation measurement capability of the Nuclear Weapons Inspection System (NWIS). Initially developed for active neutron interrogation of nuclear weapons and other fissile assemblies, NWIS employs a custom gallium arsenide application specific integrated circuit and a new signature analysis software package to simultaneously acquire and display the autocorrelation and cross-correlation spectra of up to five detector/electronics systems. The system operates at clock frequencies up to 1 GHz, permitting the collection of timing pulses in bins as narrow as 1 ns. In normal operation NWISmore » uses well characterized detectors and constant fraction discriminators, but it may also be configured to accept pulses from any circuit and to use the autocorrelation spectrum to accurately determine dead-time. Unlike traditional dead-time assessment techniques that typically require multiple sources and an assumed dead-time model, NWIS provides single-measurement assessment of circuit dead time and does not require an assumed dead-time model or a calibrated high count-rate source.« less