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Neutron detection with mercuric iodide

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3 Author(s)
Bell, Z.W. ; Y-12 Nat. Security Complex, Oak Ridge, TN, USA ; Pohl, K.R. ; van den Berg, L.

Mercuric iodide is a high-density, high-Z semiconducting material useful for gamma ray detection. This makes it convertible to a thermal neutron detector by covering it with a boron-rich material and detecting the 478 keV gamma rays resulting from the 10B(n,α)7Li* reaction. However, the 374 barn thermal capture cross section of natHg, makes the detector itself an attractive absorber, and this has been exploited previously. Since previous work indicates that there are no low-energy gamma rays emitted in coincidence with the 368 keV capture gamma from the dominant 199Hg(n,γ)200Hg reaction, only the 368 keV capture gamma is seen with any efficiency with a relatively thin (few millimeter) detector. In this paper we report measurements of neutrons via capture reactions in a bare mercuric iodide crystal and a crystal covered in 10B-loaded epoxy. The covered detector is an improvement over the bare detector because the presence of both the 478 and 368 keV gamma rays removes the ambiguity associated with the observation of only one of them. Pulse height spectra, obtained with and without lead and cadmium absorbers, showed the expected gamma rays and demonstrated that they were caused by neutrons.

Published in:

Nuclear Science Symposium Conference Record, 2003 IEEE  (Volume:5 )

Date of Conference:

19-25 Oct. 2003