Digital Pulse Shape Analysis with Phoswich Detectors to Simplify Coincidence Measurements of Radioactive Xenon

by , , | Aug 31, 2005 | Papers

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty establishes a network of monitoring stations to detect radioactive Xenon in the atmosphere from nuclear weapons testing. One such monitoring system is the Automated Radio-xenon Sampler/Analyzer (ARSA) developed at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, which uses a complex arrangement of separate beta and gamma detectors to detect beta-gamma coincidences from the Xe isotopes of interest. The coincidence measurement is very sensitive, but the large number of detectors and photomultiplier tubes require careful calibration which makes the system hard to use. It has been suggested that beta-gamma coincidences could be detected with only a single photomultiplier tube and electronics channel by using a phoswich detector consisting of optically coupled beta and gamma detectors (Ely, 2003). In that work, rise time analysis of signals from a phoswich detector was explored as a method to determine if interactions occurred in either the beta or the gamma detector or in both simultaneously. However, this approach was not able to detect coincidences with the required sensitivity or to measure the beta and gamma energies with sufficient precision for Xenon monitoring. In this paper, we present a new algorithm to detect coincidences by pulse shape analysis of the signals from a BC-404/CsI(Tl) phoswich detector. Implemented on fast digital readout electronics, the algorithm achieves clear separation of beta only, gamma only and coincidence events, accurate measurement of both beta and gamma energies, and has an error rate for detecting coincidences of less than 0.1%. Monte Carlo simulations of radiation transport and light collection were performed to optimize design parameters for a replacement detector module for the ARSA system, obtaining an estimated coincidence detection efficiency of 82-92% and a background rejection rate better than 99%. The new phoswich/pulse shape analysis method is thus suitable to simplify the existing ARSA detector system to the level of a single detector per sample chamber while maintaining the required sensitivity and precision to detect radioactive Xenon in the atmosphere. Ely, J. H. et al (2003), “NOVEL BETA-GAMMA COINCIDENCE MEASUREMENTS USING PHOSWICH DETECTORS” in Proceedings of the 25th Seismic Research Review – Nuclear Explosion Monitoring: Building the Knowledge Base, LA-UR-03-6029.

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