Network Time Synchronization of the Readout Electronics for a New Radioactive Gas Detection System

by , | Jul 1, 2019 | Papers

In systems with multiple radiation detectors, time synchronization of the data collected from different detectors is essential to reconstruct multidetector events such as scattering and coincidences. In cases where the number of detectors exceeds the readout channels in a single data acquisition electronics module, multiple modules have to be synchronized, which is traditionally accomplished by distributing clocks and triggers via dedicated connections. To eliminate this added cabling complexity in the case of a new radioactive gas detection system prototype under development at the French Atomic Energy Commission, we implemented time synchronization between multiple XIA Pixie-Net detector readout modules through the existing Ethernet network, based on the IEEE 1588 precision time protocol. The detector system is dedicated to the measurement of radioactive gases at low activity and consists of eight large silicon pixels and two NaI(Tl) detectors, instrumented with a total of three 4-channel Pixie-Net modules. Detecting NaI(Tl)/silicon coincidences will make it possible to identify each radioisotope present in the sample. To allow these identifications at low activities, the Pixie-Net modules must be synchronized to a precision well below the targeted coincidence window of 500-1000 ns. Being equipped with an Ethernet physical layer compatible with IEEE 1588 and synchronous Ethernet that outputs a locally generated but system-wide synchronized clock, the Pixie-Net can operate its analog-to-digital converters and digital processing circuitry with that clock and match time stamps for captured data across the three modules. Depending on the network configuration and synchronization method, the implementation is capable to achieve timing precisions between 300 ns and 200 ps.

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