High-pressure 4He drift tubes for fissile material detection

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A detector efficiency model based on energy extraction from neutrons is described and used to compare 4He detectors with liquid scintillators (EJ301/NE-213). Detector efficiency can be divided into three regimes: single neutron scattering, multiple neutron scattering, and a transition regime in-between. For an average fission neutron of 2 MeV, the amount of 4He needed would be about 1/4 of the amount of the mass of EJ301/NE-213 in the single-scattering regime. For about 50% neutron energy extraction (1 MeV out of 2 MeV), the two types of detectors (4He in the transition regime, EJ301 still in the single-scattering regime) have comparable mass, but 4He detectors can be much larger depending on the number density. A six-tube 11-bar-pressure 4He detector prototype is built and tested. Individual electrical pulses from the detector are recorded using a 12-bit digitizer. Differences in pulse rise time and amplitudes, due to different energy loss of neutrons and gamma rays, are used for neutron/gamma separation. Several energy spectra are also obtained and analyzed. © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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