The neutron tagging facility at Lund University

M. Imam, C. Höglund, S. Schmidt, R. Hall-Wilton, J. Birch, H. Pedersen
Journal of Chemical Physics

Over the last decades, the field of thermal neutron detection has overwhelmingly employed He-3-based technologies. The He-3 crisis together with the forthcoming establishment of the European Spallation Source have necessitated the development of new technologies for neutron detection. Today, several promising He-3-free candidates are under detailed study and need to be validated. This validation process is in general long and expensive. The study of detector prototypes using neutron-emitting radioactive sources is a cost-effective solution, especially for preliminary investigations. That said, neutron-emitting sources have the general disadvantage of broad, structured, emitted-neutron energy ranges. Further, the emitted neutrons often compete with unwanted backgrounds of gamma-rays, alpha-particles, and fission-fragments. By blending experimental infrastructure such as shielding to provide particle beams with neutron-detection techniques such as tagging, disadvantages may be converted into advantages. In particular, a technique known as tagging involves exploiting the mixed-field generally associated with a neutron-emitting source to determine neutron time-of-flight and thus energy on an event-by-event basis. This allows for the definition of low-cost, precision neutron beams. The Source-Testing Facility, located at Lund University in Sweden and operated by the SONNIG Group of the Division of Nuclear Physics, was developed for just such low-cost studies. Precision tagged-neutron beams derived from radioactive sources are available around-the-clock for advanced detector diagnostic studies. Neutron measurements performed at the Source Testing Facility are thus cost-effective and have a very low barrier for entry. In this paper, we present an overview of the project.

The neutron tagging facility at Lund University