A multilayer surface detector for ultracold neutrons

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A multilayer surface detector for ultracold neutrons (UCNs) is described. The top 10B layer is exposed to vacuum and directly captures UCNs. The ZnS:Ag layer beneath the 10B layer is a few microns thick, which is sufficient to detect the charged particles from the 10B(n,α)7Li neutron-capture reaction, while thin enough that ample light due to α and 7Li escapes for detection by photomultiplier tubes. A 100-nm thick 10B layer gives high UCN detection efficiency, as determined by the mean UCN kinetic energy, detector materials, and other parameters. Low background, including negligible sensitivity to ambient neutrons, has also been verified through pulse-shape analysis and comparison with other existing 3He and 10B detectors. This type of detector has been configured in different ways for UCN flux monitoring, development of UCN guides and neutron lifetime research.

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