GEM-based thermal neutron beam monitors for spallation sources


The development of new large area and high flux thermal neutron detectors for future neutron spallation sources, like the European Spallation Source (ESS) is motivated by the problem of 3He shortage. In the framework of the development of ESS, GEM (Gas Electron Multiplier) is one of the detector technologies that are being explored as thermal neutron sensors. A first prototype of GEM-based thermal neutron beam monitor (bGEM) has been built during 2012. The bGEM is a triple GEM gaseous detector equipped with an aluminum cathode coated by View the MathML source1μm thick B4C layer used to convert thermal neutrons to charged particles through the 10B(n,7Li)αα nuclear reaction. This paper describes the results obtained by testing a bGEM detector at the ISIS spallation source on the VESUVIO beamline. Beam profiles (FWHMx=31 mm and FWHMy=36 mm), bGEM thermal neutron counting efficiency (≈1%≈1%), detector stability (3.45%) and the time-of-flight spectrum of the beam were successfully measured. This prototype represents the first step towards the development of thermal neutrons detectors with efficiency larger than 50% as alternatives to 3He-based gaseous detectors.
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