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Neutron thermalization in nuclear graphite: A modern story of a classic moderator...

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Annals of Nuclear Energy
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Graphite has been of great interest since the dawn of the nuclear era. In this work, we will focus on the thermal neutron scattering of two types of nuclear graphite that have different microstructures, namely, the historic PGA which has a very anisotropic medium-grained needle coke, and the new G347A which is a near-isotropic fine-grained graphite. We report the results of room temperature inelastic neutron scattering measurements for the scattering function, double differential scattering cross-section, and phonon density of states. The obtained results are discussed in conjunction with results extracted from first-principles lattice dynamics simulations of crystalline graphite, using the incoherent approximation and by also including the coherent-one phonon contribution. Excellent agreements have been found between the measured and calculated scattering functions and phonon densities of states. The inclusion of the coherent-one phonon scattering shows a significant improvement of the calculated scattering functions, double differentials, and inelastic scattering cross-sections. We also highlight the physical concerns about the current thermal neutron scattering ENDF/B-VIII of nuclear graphite library and its corresponding phonon density of states. This work aims to provide a new presentation of neutron thermalization by graphite and offers a new set of high quality experimental and computational data for consideration.