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    • 2015-10-06 11:05:00
    • Article ID: 640942

    A Large-Area Detector for Fundamental Neutron Science

    New scalable cost-effective ultracold neutron detector has many applications.

    • Credit: Image courtesy of Los Alamos National Laboratory

      Left: Boron-10 coated commercial silver-doped ZnS screens are used to capture ultracold neutrons directly; Right: A large area detector prototype is being examined in a light-tight box. An array of wavelength-shifting scintillator fibers is used to collect light from a 0.5 m by 0.3 m surface.

    The Science

    How long do neutrons live? The answer could change how we think everything from the cosmos to coffee cups works, or in scientific terms, moving beyond the Standard Model. Yet, scientists do not agree on the neutrons longevity. The disagreement is fanned by the limitations of today’s instruments. Now, a highly efficient multilayer surface detector is helping to resolve this puzzle using a unique magneto-gravitational trap located at the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center.

    The Impact

    The multilayer solid state detector is more efficient and reduces systematic errors in neutron measurements. Both are important considerations to achieving a neutron lifetime measurement accuracy within 1 second, a threshold critical to getting accurate answers. This type of detector can also be used in ultracold neutron (UCN) counting, UCN spectroscopy, and other fundamental UCN science and applications.

    Summary

    A multilayer surface detector for ultracold neutrons (UCNs) has been demonstrated recently by a multi-institutional team led scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory. This detector has applications to nuclear physics experiments. The top boron-10 layer is exposed to the vacuum chamber and directly captures UCNs. The ZnS:Ag layer beneath the boron-10 layer is a few microns thick, which is sufficient to detect the charges from the 10B(n, α)7Li neutron-capture reaction, while thin enough so that light generated by neutron capture is easily detected by photomultiplier tubes and other light-sensors including silicon photomultipliers. A 100-nm-thick boron-10 layer gives high UCN detection efficiency, as determined by the mean UCN kinetic energy and others. Low background, including negligible sensitivity to ambient neutrons, has also been verified through pulse-shape analysis and comparisons with other existing helium-3 and boron-10 detectors.

    Funding

    This work was funded by the Los Alamos National Laboratory Laboratory Director’s Research and Development program.

    Publications

    Z. Wang, M. A. Hoffbauer, C. L. Morris, N. B. Callahan, E. R. Adamek, J. D. Bacon, M. Blatnik, A. E. Brandt, L. J. Broussard, S. M. Clayton, C. Cude-Woods, S. Currie, E. B. Dees, X. Ding, J. Gao, F. E. Gray, K. P. Hickerson, A. T. Holley, T. M. Ito, C. Y. Liu, M. Makela, J. C. Ramsey, R. W. Pattie, Jr., D. J. Salvat, A. Saunders, D. W. Schmidt, R. K. Schulze, S. J. Seestrom, E. I. Sharapov, A. Sprow, Z. Tang, W. Wei, J. W. Wexler, T. L. Womack, A. R. Young, and B. A. Zeck, “A Multilayer Surface Detector for Ultracold Neutrons.” Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section A 798, 30-35 (2015). [DOI: 10.1016/j.nima.2015.07.010]

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    Fat-Based Molecules are Key to Zika Virus Infection

    Fat-Based Molecules are Key to Zika Virus Infection

    Researchers from PNNL have helped colleagues at OHSU identify lipid molecules required for Zika infection in human cells. The specific lipids involved could also be a clue to why the virus primarily infects brain tissue.

    Another Win for the Standard Model: New Study Defies Decades-Old 'Discrepancy' With High-Precision Measurement

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    Magnum Venus Products licenses ORNL co-developed additive manufacturing technologies

    Magnum Venus Products licenses ORNL co-developed additive manufacturing technologies

    The Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory has licensed two additive manufacturing-related technologies that aim to streamline and ramp up production processes to Knoxville-based Magnum Venus Products, Inc., a global manufacturer of fluid movement and product solutions for industrial applications in composites and adhesives.

    Berkeley Lab Part of Multi-Institutional Team Awarded $60M for Solar Fuels Research

    Berkeley Lab Part of Multi-Institutional Team Awarded $60M for Solar Fuels Research

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    Will Fox wins 2020 John Dawson Award for producing new insights into astrophysical shockwaves

    Will Fox wins 2020 John Dawson Award for producing new insights into astrophysical shockwaves

    Profile of PPPL winner of APS Dawson Award for outstanding achievement in plasma physics research.

    Jefferson Lab ES&H Deputy Director Receives Health Physics Society Honor

    Jefferson Lab ES&H Deputy Director Receives Health Physics Society Honor

    Bob May's career-long aspiration has been to keep people from all walks of life and in different work environments safe from radiation in the workplace. Now, the deputy director of Environment, Safety and Health at the U.S. Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility has been honored for his dedication to the field by being named a fellow of the Health Physics Society.

    Robert Ainsworth awarded $2.5 million to improve particle beams for high-intensity experiments

    Robert Ainsworth awarded $2.5 million to improve particle beams for high-intensity experiments

    Fermilab scientist Robert Ainsworth has won a $2.5 million Department of Energy Early Career Research Award to study different ways of ensuring stability in high-intensity proton beams. By studying how certain types of beam instabilities emerge and evolve under different conditions, his team can help sharpen scientists' methods for correcting them or avoiding them to begin with.

    PNNL's Vapor Detection Technology Named GeekWire's 'Innovation of the Year'

    PNNL's Vapor Detection Technology Named GeekWire's 'Innovation of the Year'

    A PNNL-developed technology that can quickly detect explosive vapors, deadly chemicals and illicit drugs with unparalleled accuracy has been named the 2020 Innovation of the Year by GeekWire, the Seattle-based technology news company.

    Accomplished early career physicist is first recipient of fellowship that honors pioneering PPPL physicist Robert Ellis Jr.

    Accomplished early career physicist is first recipient of fellowship that honors pioneering PPPL physicist Robert Ellis Jr.

    An early career physicist with a strong background in plasma physics has been named to a new postdoctoral fellowship named for Robert Ellis Jr., a pioneering physicist at PPPL, that is aimed at diversifying the plasma physics field.

    U.S. Department of Energy to announce "Launch to the Future: Quantum Internet" at UChicago

    U.S. Department of Energy to announce "Launch to the Future: Quantum Internet" at UChicago

    On Thursday, July 23, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy Dan Brouillette will join government, academic, and science leaders at the University of Chicago to unveil a report outlining a blueprint for the construction of a national quantum internet, bringing the U.S. to the forefront of the global quantum race and ushering in a new era of communications.

    Department of Energy Names Three Office of Science Distinguished Scientists Fellows

    The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) named three National Laboratory scientists as DOE Office of Science Distinguished Scientists Fellows

    U.S. Department of Energy unveils blueprint for the quantum internet at 'Launch to the Future: Quantum Internet' event

    U.S. Department of Energy unveils blueprint for the quantum internet at 'Launch to the Future: Quantum Internet' event

    The U.S. Department of Energy unveils a report that lays out a blueprint strategy for the development of a national quantum internet, bringing the United States to the forefront of the global quantum race and ushering in a new era of communications. This report provides a pathway to ensure the development of the National Quantum Initiative Act.


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    Harvesting Energy from Light using Bio-inspired Artificial Cells

    Harvesting Energy from Light using Bio-inspired Artificial Cells

    Scientists designed and connected two different artificial cells to each other to produce molecules called ATP (adenosine triphosphate).

    Engineering Living Scaffolds for Building Materials

    Engineering Living Scaffolds for Building Materials

    Bone and mollusk shells are composite systems that combine living cells and inorganic components. This allows them to regenerate and change structure while also being very strong and durable. Borrowing from this amazing complexity, researchers have been exploring a new class of materials called engineered living materials (ELMs).

    Excavating Quantum Information Buried in Noise

    Excavating Quantum Information Buried in Noise

    Researchers developed two new methods to assess and remove error in how scientists measure quantum systems. By reducing quantum "noise" - uncertainty inherent to quantum processes - these new methods improve accuracy and precision.

    How Electrons Move in a Catastrophe

    How Electrons Move in a Catastrophe

    Lanthanum strontium manganite (LSMO) is a widely applicable material, from magnetic tunnel junctions to solid oxide fuel cells. However, when it gets thin, its behavior changes for the worse. The reason why was not known. Now, using two theoretical methods, a team determined what happens.

    When Ions and Molecules Cluster

    When Ions and Molecules Cluster

    How an ion behaves when isolated within an analytical instrument can differ from how it behaves in the environment. Now, Xue-Bin Wang at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory devised a way to bring ions and molecules together in clusters to better discover their properties and predict their behavior.

    Tune in to Tetrahedral Superstructures

    Tune in to Tetrahedral Superstructures

    Shape affects how the particles fit together and, in turn, the resulting material. For the first time, a team observed the self-assembly of nanoparticles with tetrahedral shapes.

    Tracing Interstellar Dust Back to the Solar System's Formation

    Tracing Interstellar Dust Back to the Solar System's Formation

    This study is the first to confirm dust particles pre-dating the formation of our solar system. Further study of these materials will enable a deeper understanding of the processes that formed and have since altered them.

    Investigating Materials that Can Go the Distance in Fusion Reactors

    Investigating Materials that Can Go the Distance in Fusion Reactors

    Future fusion reactors will require materials that can withstand extreme operating conditions, including being bombarded by high-energy neutrons at high temperatures. Scientists recently irradiated titanium diboride (TiB2) in the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) to better understand the effects of fusion neutrons on performance.

    Better 3-D Imaging of Tumors in the Breast with Less Radiation

    Better 3-D Imaging of Tumors in the Breast with Less Radiation

    In breast cancer screening, an imaging technique based on nuclear medicine is currently being used as a successful secondary screening tool alongside mammography to improve the accuracy of the diagnosis. Now, a team is hoping to improve this imaging technique.

    Microbes are Metabolic Specialists

    Microbes are Metabolic Specialists

    Scientists can use genetic information to measure if microbes in the environment can perform specific ecological roles. Researchers recently analyzed the genomes of over 6,000 microbial species.


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