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New trends in neutron coincidence counting: digital signal processing


Congress title :SYMPOSIUM ON SAFEGUARDS AND NUCLEAR MATERIAL MANAGEMENT
Congress town :Aix-en-Provence
Congress date :22/05/2007

Summary

Neutron coincidence counting is the reference NDA technique used in nuclear safeguards to measure the fissile mass in nuclear material samples. Nowadays most of the neutron counting systems are based on an analogue-logical technology. The analogue signal from the He-3 tubes is processed by amplifiers producing a train of logical TTL pulses that are fed into a neutron analyser performing the time correlation analysis. In future these systems could be replaced by the introduction of datation cards that replace the logical pulse by a digital time stamp (LIST mode acquisition). These digital pulse trains could be directly fed to an acquisition PC and processed by software, without needing any more an additional hardware component, such as (ordinary or Multiplicity) Shift Register Analyser. This could be the future major development in practical neutron correlation analysis. Under a push from the main inspection authorities (IAEA and Euratom) several research laboratories have started to study and develop prototypes of neutron counting systems based on digital signal processing. A collaboration in this field among JRC, IRSN and LANL has been established within the framework of the ESARDA-NDA working group. Joint testing campaigns have been performed in the JRC PERLA laboratory, using different equipment provided by the three partners. The paper will describe the rationale for changing to a digital technology, give an overview of the hardware and software tools available today and a feedback of the experience gained in the first tests. Associated to the experimental tests, the ESARDA-NDA working group is also performing an inter-comparison benchmark exercise on the analysis software for pulse processing.

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