Industrial applications of photonuclear resonance excitation
Author(s)Chichester, David Lee, 1971-
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Nuclear Engineering.
Lawrence M. Lidsky.
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Photonuclear resonance excitation refers to a variety of photonuclear interaction processes that lead to the excitation of a nucleus from some initial state to a higher energy nuclear state. Typical excited nuclear state lifetimes are short, ranging from nanoseconds to femtoseconds or less; however, some isotopes have unusually long-lived excited nuclear energy states, or isomers. This dissertation examines the feasibility of using bremsstrahlung irradiation sources to produce isomers for industrial applications. In contrast with charged particle based isomer production, the use of high energy photons allows for the irradiation and production of isomers in bulk materials. The commercial availability of reliable, high power industrial electron accelerators means that isomer activities sufficient for industrial applications may be achieved using bremsstrahlung, in contrast with neutron based approaches where suitable neutron sources of sufficient intensity for these applications are lacking. In order to design a system for creating nuclear isomers using photons, the resonant photon absorption isomeric excitation cross section must be known. Unlike neutron absorption and scattering cross sections, comparatively little information exists for photon isomeric excitation. To address this, a theoretical model based upon statistical probability distributions of nuclear energy levels has been developed for calculating photon excitation cross sections at energies below neutron and proton binding energies; the ideal region of operation for most applications in order to minimize long term activation of materials. Isomeric excitation cross sections calculated using this technique have been compared with experimentally measured values and are found to agree to within a factor of two or better.(cont.) sing this, a general transition equation suitable for both nuclear resonance fluorescence and isomer excitation has been developed for calculating nuclear level distribution probabilities for materials undergoing photon irradiation. Experiments have been carried out using an industrial 6 MeV electron accelerator to identify obstacles related to nuclear resonance fluorescence measurements as well as measurements of the decay of short-lived isomers using scintillators in the vicinity of high intensity bremsstrahlung sources. Use of a fast switching gating circuit in combination with a pulsed accelerator was found to be a satisfactory solution for dealing with problems related to the performance of a detectors photomultiplier tube as a result of exposure to scattered radiation during the beam pulse. Calculations have been carried out to assess the performance characteristics which could be expected from industrial photonuclear resonance excitation systems, based upon a 10 MeV electron accelerator. For simple isomer production, specific activities on the order of 1 mCi/g/mA can be expected for irradiation periods sufficiently long for equilibrium to be reached. For the analysis of arsenic concentrations in environmental samples, sensitivities of 1 +/- 0.1 ppm could be achieved using accelerator currents of 50 - 100 [mu]A with irradiations times of a few minutes or less. A system designed to analyze ore traveling along a conveyor belt could be used to sort gold ore based upon a lower grade cutoff of 5 ppm using an accelerator of 10 mA ...
Thesis (Sc. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Nuclear Engineering, 2000.Includes bibliographical references (p. 187-198).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Nuclear Engineering.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology