Development of a neutron/gamma coincidence measurement system for the characterization of radionuclide neutron sources

This PhD work is part of sources calibration activities at the LNHB-MA and R&D activities within the SIMRI aimed at developing neutron measurement systems for the CEA and the nuclear industry. The objective of the PhD work is to develop a new measurement system using neutron/gamma coincidences to enable the characterization of the (alpha,n)-type neutron sources. These sources consists of a homogeneous mixture of an alpha particle emitter and the target substance, the nuclei of which emit neutrons via a nuclear reaction. As for example, we can cite for example: AmBe, PuBe, CmBe, or even exotic source of high emissivity and mixing several alpha radionuclides (ex. AmPuBe). For this familly of sources, the emission of neutron by reaction (alpha,n) is in simultaneous cascade with a characteristic gamma at 4.4 MeV. The detection of the neutron and the gamma in coincidence is likely to provide information of interest in the source characterization in terms of emission rate and spectral fluence. The objective is to measure precisely gamma and neutron signatures as well as gamma/neutron intensity ratios resulting from the nuclear reaction. The new measurement device must also be able to measure neutrons emitted by the spontaneous fission reaction or by (n,2n) reaction in beryllium. Others photon emission can be also provide information of interest, ex. the emission of a gamma at 2.2 MeV resulting from the capture on hydrogen. The neutron/gamma coincidence measurements can be also used to improve the evaluation of nuclear data such as cross sections of certain elements, ex. (n,gamma) reaction on oxygen or hydrogen.

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