Photoneutron spectroscopy using monoenergetic gamma rays for bulk explosives detection


  1. McFee, J.E.
  2. Faust, A.A.
  3. Pastor, K.A.
Corporate Authors
Defence R&D Canada - Suffield, Ralston ALTA (CAN);McMaster Univ, Hamilton ONT (CAN)
To date, the most successful nuclear methods to confirm the presence of bulk explosives have been radiative thermal neutron capture (thermal neutron activation) and prompt radiative emission following inelastic fast neutron scattering (fast neutron analysis). This paper proposes an alternative: photoneutron spectroscopy using monoenergetic gamma rays. If monoenergetic gamma rays whose energies exceed the threshold for neutron production are incident on a given isotope, the emitted neutrons have a spectrum consisting of one or more discrete energies and the spectrum can be used as a fingerprint to identify the isotope. A prototype compact gamma-ray generator is proposed as a suitable source and a commercially available 3He ionization chamber is proposed as a suitable spectrometer. Advantages of the method with respect to the previously mentioned ones may include simpler spectra and low inherent natural neutron background. Its drawbacks include a present lack of suitable commercially available photon sources, induced neutron backgrounds and low detection rates. This paper describes the method, including kinematics, sources, detectors and geometries. Simulations using a modified Geant4 Monte Carlo modelling code are described and results are presented to support feasibility. Further experiments are recommended.
Report Number
DRDC-SUFFIELD-SL-2012-124 — Scientific Literature
Date of publication
01 Jan 2013
Number of Pages
Electronic Document(PDF)

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