Status of Electronics Upgrades to the LANL Green Is Clean Phoswich Detector Systems – 16419

by | Jul 1, 2016 | Papers

Los Alamos National Laboratory radiological facilities produce low-density room trash that, in many cases, is not contaminated with radioactivity. It has been estimated that 50 to 90% of low-density room trash is free of radioactive contamination and eligible for inclusion in LANL’s Green is Clean (GIC) program. The GIC program is a verification program for non-regulated waste from radiation controlled areas that has been actively segregated as nonradioactive through the use of the waste generator’s acceptable knowledge. The GIC program has employed two large area Phoswich gamma ray detector systems (HERCULES and ZEUS) to assay and verify that GIC candidate waste meets free release disposal requirements. The large area (127 cm{sup 2}) Phoswich detectors consist of a thin NaI front crystal (3 mm thick) that is optically coupled to a thick CsI back crystal (50 mm thick). The crystals are set in an oxygen-free high-conductivity copper housing with a very thin (0.025 mm) aluminum entrance window. The scintillation properties of the two crystals are different enough to allow the system’s electronic components to identify the origin of any pulse. The original systems utilize Nuclear Instrumentation Module (NIM) electronics to process the detector signals. These electronic modules provide the buffering, amplification, and pulse shape analyzer needed for the proper presentation of signals to the custom Phosmux router module. The router module separates the sodium iodide and cesium iodide signals by their rise times and transfers this information into the computer-mounted multichannel analyzer, a Canberra Model S-100 system. While these NIM Bin counting electronics configurations have been effective for approximately 20 years of operation, they are bulky requiring numerous modules per detector and the important Phosmux module is no longer manufactured by LANL. Modern advancement of commercial counting electronics now offer more compact options for equivalent detector signal processing. A pulse shape discriminator module, the DGF Pixie-4, made by XIA LLC, has been identified that can replace the majority of the original NIM bin electronics in a much more compact chassis – one Pixie-4 replaces four NIM amplifiers and four NIM PSAs and fits in a small National Instruments{sup TM} chassis. Thus, LANL has initiated a system upgrade project to replace the historic NIM electronics with the XIA Pixie4 and associated configuration software. The hardware for one Phoswich systems has been procured for the project and the configuration software, customized for the LANL Phoswich detector application, has been written by the manufacturer. Initial setup and optimization of the Pixie-4 configuration has been performed. Qualitative and quantitative baseline comparisons to the NIM electronics has been performed. Good agreement of key low energy gamma lines between the systems has allowed ‘Proof of Concept’ to be concluded. Further optimization and performance evaluations are in progress. Modifications to the LabVIEW{sup TM} based operating software (originally written by VI Control Systems Ltd.) are being performed by a LANL LabVIEW{sup TM} programmer to accommodate the electronics upgrade. A new LabVIEW{sup TM} interface to control the Pixie-4 has already been developed. Final optimization and testing, formal software QA, and revisions to operating procedures are in progress to achieve completion of the GIC system upgrade project. (authors)

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