Characterization of modified neutron fields with americium-beryllium and californium-252 sources

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Exline, Peter Riley
Hertel, Nolan E.
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There are a variety of uses for reference neutron fields including detector response and dosimeter studies. The Georgia Institute of Technology has a 252Cf spontaneous fission source and an AmBe (α, n) source available for use in its research programs. In addition, it has iron, lead, beryllium, tantalum, heavy water, and polyethylene spheres to modify the neutron energy distributions from these neutron sources. This research characterized the neutron leakage spectra from the source inside spherical shells using a Bonner sphere spectrometer. All the neutron fields measured were also computed with a Monte Carlo code to determine the neutron fluence rate and ambient dose equivalent rate. The comparison of experimental data and calculations are used to provide further insight into the neutron spectra as modified by the spheres. The characterization of these modified sources will provide data to assist in using the resulting neutron fields in other research activities. To measure each neutron field combination, one of the two sources was placed in the center of an attenuating sphere. The neutron field was first measured at a variety of source-to-detector distances with a Bonner Sphere System. The spectrometer measurements, specifically the count rates of the different Bonner spheres, as a function of distance from the source is fitted to obtain corrections for room-scatter and air-scatter of neutrons using the Eisenhauer, Schwartz, and Johnson method. Using these corrections, the count rates free of room return is obtained at 1 m from the source and unfolded using the BUMS software to obtain the reported fluence and dose equivalent rates. These results are compared to those generated by the Monte Carlo Neutral Particle (MCNP) code. Models were made in MCNP for each of the source and moderating sphere combinations. The neutron fluence and dose rates were tallied during the MCNP simulation. The unfolded experimental data and the MCNP calculations showed good agreement for most of source-attenuating sphere combinations, thereby reinforcing the experimental results.
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