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Title: Thermal neutron detection using alkali halide scintillators with Li-6 and pulse shape discrimination

An ideal 3He detector replacement for the near- to medium-term future will use materials that are easy to produce and well understood, while maintaining thermal neutron detection efficiency and gamma rejection close to the 3He standard. Toward this end, we investigated the use of standard alkali halide scintillators interfaced with 6Li and read out with photomultiplier tubes (PMTs). Thermal neutrons are captured on 6Li with high efficiency, emitting high-energy and triton (3H) reaction products. These particles deposit energy in the scintillator, providing a thermal neutron signal; discrimination against gamma interactions is possible via pulse shape discrimination (PSD), since heavy particles produce faster pulses in alkali halide crystals. We constructed and tested two classes of detectors based on this concept. In one case 6Li is used as a dopant in polycrystalline NaI; in the other case a thin Li foil is used as a conversion layer. In the configurations studied here, these systems are sensitive to both gamma and neutron radiation, with discrimination between the two and good energy resolution for gamma spectroscopy. We present results from our investigations, including measurements of the neutron efficiency and gamma rejection for the two detector types. We also show a comparison with Cs2LiYCl6:Ce (CLYC),more » which is emerging as the standard scintillator for simultaneous gamma and thermal neutron detection, and also allows PSD. We conclude that 6Li foil with CsI scintillating crystals has near-term promise as a thermal neutron detector in applications previously dominated by 3He detectors. The other approach, 6Li-doped alkali halides, has some potential, but require more work to understand material properties and improve fabrication processes.« less
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  1. Sandia National Lab. (SNL-NM), Albuquerque, NM (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Sandia National Laboratories (SNL-CA), Livermore, CA (United States); Sandia National Laboratories (SNL-NM), Albuquerque, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
Country of Publication:
United States