Digital pulse processing: new possibilities in nuclear spectroscopy

by , , | Nov 1, 2000 | Papers

Digital pulse processing is a signal processing technique in which detector (preamplifier output) signals are directly digitized and processed to extract quantities of interest. This approach has several significant advantages compared to traditional analog signal shaping.

First, analyses can be developed which take pulse-by-pulse differences into account, as in making ballistic deficit compensations. Second, transient induced charge signals, which deposit no net charge on an electrode, can be analyzed to give, for example, information on the position of interaction within the detector. Third, deadtimes from transient overload signals are greatly reduced, from tens of μs to hundreds of ns. Fourth, signals are easily captured, so that more complex analyses can be postponed until the source event has been deemed “interesting”. Fifth, signal capture and processing may easily be based on coincidence criteria between different detectors or different parts of the same detector.

XIAs recently introduced CAMAC module, the DGF-4C, provides many of these features for four input channels, including two levels of digital processing and a FIFO for signal capture for each signal channel. The first level of digital processing is “immediate”, taking place in a gate array at the 40 MHz digitization rate, and implements pulse detection, pileup inspection, trapezoidal energy filtering, and control of an external 25.6 μs long FIFO. The second level of digital processing is provided by a digital signal processor (DSP), where more complex algorithms can be implemented. To illustrate digital pulse processing’s possibilities, we describe the application of the DGF-4C to a series of experiments.

The first, for which the DGF was originally developed, involves locating gamma-ray interaction sites within large segmented Ge detectors. The goal of this work is to attain spatial resolutions of order 2 mm σ within 70 mm × 90 mm detectors. We show how pulse shape analysis allows ballistic deficit to be significantly reduced in these detectors.

A second experiment involves studying exotic nuclei by observing their 1 MeV direct proton decays following implantation in a Si crossed stripe detector at 35 MeV. Whereas the implantation paralyzes analog electronics for almost 10 μs, the DGF allows the study of decay times as short as 1 μs. Initial energy and time resolution results are presented.

Finally, we show how the DGF’s precise timing and coincidence capabilities lead to significant experimental simplifications in dealing with phoswich detectors, low background counting work, and trace Pb detection by coincident photon detection.

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