Development of a new spectrometer for the characterization of the radionuclide-based neutron sources

Since few years, the LNHB is developing a new instrument dedicated to the neutron spectrometry, called AQUASPEC. The experimental device consists of a polyethylene container that is equipped with a central channel accommodating the source and 12-measurement channels (in a spiral formation) around the source, into which detectors can be placed. The container is filled with water in order to moderate neutrons emitted from the source. Measurements have performed with 6Li-doped plastic scintillators, optimized for the simultaneous detection of fast neutrons, thermal neutrons and gamma rays through the signal processing based on pulse shape discrimination (PSD). The spectrum reconstruction is performed with an iterative ML-EM or MAP-EM algorithm, by unfolding experimental data through the detector's responses matrix calculated with MCNP6 code. The candidate will work in the general way on issues related to the neutron spectrometry in the laboratory: Contribution to the development and validation of the new spectrometer AQUASPEC; Participation to the sources measurements and working on aspects of neutron detection and signal processing, in particular issue of the discrimination of neutron/gamma based on the pulse shape discrimination technique (PSD); Usage of Monte Carlo simulation codes and algorithms to reconstruct initial neutron energy distribution; Investigation and integration of information related to neutron/gamma coincidence specific to the XBe type sources.

Evolution of ISAAC and Xpn codes for an extension of the QRPA method to the complete processing of odd nuclei; towards a database without interpolation for odd nuclei

The treatment of odd-isospin nuclei in microscopic approaches is currently limited to the so-called «blocking» approximation. In the Hartree-Fock Bogolyubov (HFB) approach, the ground state of an odd-mass nucleus is described as a one-particle excitation (qp) on its reference vacuum. Thus, in the QRPA approach, where the basic excitations are states «with 2 quasi-particles», the blocked qp is excluded from the valence space under the Pauli exclusion principle. As a result, the chosen qp is a spectator and is not involved in the QRPA collective states. If the single nucleon should have a significant contribution some levels will not be reproduced. The development in the QRPA codes (ISAAC and Xpn) of a procedure that allows all nucleons to participate in collective states is mandatory for a microscopic description of odd nuclei. Moreover, recent Xpn developments have allowed the description of forbidden ß- first decays improving the estimation of half-life time of fission fragments. This could be extended to address ß+ and electronic captures and could be adapted to large-scale calculations useful for nuclear astrophysics.

Development of a modular multi-detector instrumentation for the measurement of atomic and nuclear parameters

The LNE PLATINUM project (PLATFORM OF MODULAR NUMERICAL INSTRUMENTATION) aims to develop a modular platform, in order to test new instrumentation using two or more detectors in coincidence. The principle implemented in this project is based on the simultaneous detection of interactions taking place in two different detectors, by collecting information on the type of particle and its energy (spectroscopy). This principle is the basis for absolute measurements of activity or active continuous background reduction systems to improve detection limits. But it also allows the measurement of parameters characterizing the decay scheme, such as internal conversion coefficients, X-ray fluorescence yields or angular correlations between photons emitted in cascade.

Thanks to its expertise in atomic and nuclear data, the LNHB has noted for many years the incompleteness of decay schemes for certain radionuclides. These schemes, established at the time of evaluation from existing measured data, sometimes present inconsistencies or poorly known transitions, in particular in the presence of highly converted gamma transitions or very low intensity (for example, recent studies on 103Pa, 129I and 147Nd have revealed such inconsistencies). It therefore appears important for LNHB to better master the technique of coincidence measurement, taking advantage of the new possibilities in terms of data acquisition and time stamping to provide additional information on decay scheme and contribute to their improvement.