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Title: SNM Detection with an Optimized Water Cherenkov Neutron Detector

Special Nuclear Material (SNM) can either spontaneously fission or be induced to do so: either case results in neutron emission. For this reason, neutron detection performs a crucial role in the functionality of Radiation Portal Monitoring (RPM) devices. Since neutrons are highly penetrating and difficult to shield, they could potentially be detected escaping even a well-shielded cargo container. If the shielding were sophisticated, detecting escaping neutrons would require a highly efficient detector with close to full solid angle coverage. In 2008, we reported the successful detection of neutrons with a 250 liter (l) gadolinium doped water Cherenkov prototype—a technology that could potentially be employed cost effectively with full solid angle coverage. More recently we have built and tested both 1-kl and 3.5-kl versions, demonstrating that very large, cost effective, non-flammable and environmentally benign neutron detectors can be operated efficiently without being overwhelmed by background. In our paper, we present a new design for a modular system of water-based neutron detectors that could be deployed as a real RPM. The modules contain a number of optimizations that have not previously been combined within a single system. We present simulations of the new system, based on the performance of our previous detectors.more » These simulations indicate that an optimized system such as is presented here could achieve SNM sensitivity competitive with a large 3He-based system. Moreover, the realization of large, cost effective neutron detectors could, for the first time, enable the detection of multiple neutrons per fission from within a large object such as a cargo container. Such a signal would provide a robust indication of the presence of fissioning material, reducing the frequency of false alarms while increasing sensitivity.« less
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  1. Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (LLNL), Livermore, CA (United States)
Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 0168-9002
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research. Section A, Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 693; Journal ID: ISSN 0168-9002
Research Org:
Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (LLNL), Livermore, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
73 NUCLEAR PHYSICS AND RADIATION PHYSICS; water Cerenkov; neutron detector; gadolinium; neutron capture
OSTI Identifier: