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Characterization of a Boron-Loaded Deuterated Liquid Scintillator for Fast and Thermal Neutron Detection...

by Bryan Egner, Michael T Febbraro, James Bevins
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Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment
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The preparation and characterization of novel boron-loaded deuterated liquid scintillators (BLDLS) are presented for the first time to investigate the performance of a detector sensitive to both fast and thermal neutrons intended for future neutron spectroscopy measurements. Three deuterated toluene-based scintillation cocktails were produced, one without boron, one loaded with ortho-carborane (natural boron isotopic abundance), and one with 96 wt% 10B enriched ortho-carborane. General optical and material properties were analyzed to include the composition, density, index of refraction, photoluminescence emission spectra, and absorbance spectra in addition to the relative light yield, resolution, relative efficiency, and pulse-shape-discrimination performance for all three scintillators and a hydrogen-based EJ-309 scintillator to evaluate the effects of boron loading in comparison with a common commercially-available scintillator and feasibility for future neutron spectroscopy measurements. Finally, the detection of shielded neutron sources was explored to capitalize on the 10B thermal neutron capture reaction. The results showed loading the scintillators with boron deteriorated the PSD performance slightly compared to the unloaded deuterated scintillator and resulted in a relative light yield loss of 26% and 41% for the 10B enriched and natural boron BLDLS, respectively. Lastly, the BLDLS have a higher relative detection efficiency than the unloaded deuterated scintillator for shielded neutron sources, based on total count rate, a desirable characteristic for missions related to finding and characterizing illicitly-trafficked special nuclear material.