An improved method for measuring the absolute DD neutron yield and calibrating neutron time-of-flight detectors in inertial confinement fusion experiments
Author(s)Waugh, C. (Caleb Joseph)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering.
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Since the establishment of nuclear physics in the early 1900's and the development of the hydrogen bomb in the 1950's, inertial confinement fusion (ICF) has been an important field in physics. Funded largely though the U.S. National Nuclear Security Agency (NNSA), the Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE), Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) have advanced ICF as a platform for stockpile stewardship and weapons physics, but also have contributed to basic science in high energy density regimes and for pursuing fusion an energy source. One of the primary goals of the ICF research program is to produce a thermonuclear burn in an ICF capsule where the power balance of the reaction is net positive. This criterion is often referred to as ignition. One of the most common metrics for gauging progress towards ignition in an ICF implosion is the ITFX parameter (similar to the Lawson Criterion) and is primarily a function of the implosion areal density (pR) and fusion yield. An ITFX value greater than one indicates net energy production. In deuterium/tritium fuel mixtures the yield is determined by measuring the reactant 14.0 MeV neutrons. Subsequently, the ability to obtain highly accurate absolute neutron yield measurements is vital to determining the ITFX and hence progress toward ignition. Although ignition implosions all use deuterium/tritium fuel mixes, other capsule fuel mixes such as pure deuterium and deuterium/helium 3 are also used to improve understanding of capsule performance. At the LLE and LLNL, neutron time-of-flight (nTOF) detectors routinely measure the absolute neutron yield from laser-driven ICF implosions. Although originally calibrated through a series of cross-calibrations with indium and copper neutron activation systems, an alternative method has been developed for measuring the DDn yield that provides a more accurate calibration by directly calibrating nTOF in situ to CR-39 range filter (RF) proton detectors. A neutron yield can be inferred from the CR-39 RF proton measurement since the DD proton and DD neutron branching ratio is well characterized and close to unity. By obtaining highly accurate DDp yields from a series of exploding pusher campaigns on OMEGA, an excellent absolute DDn yield measurement was obtained and used to calibrate the 3m nTOF detector. Data obtained suggest the existing OMEGA nTOF calibration coefficient to be low by 9.0 1.5 % based on the inferred CR-39 DD neutron yield. In addition, comparison across multiple exploding pusher campaigns indicate that significant reduction in charged particle flux anisotropies can be achieved on shots where capsule bang time occurs significantly (on the order of 500ps) after the end of the laser pulse. This is important since the main source of error in the RF DDp yield measurement is due to particle flux anisotropies. Results indicate that the CR-39 RF/nTOF in situ calibration method can serve as a valuable platform for measuring the DDn yield from ICF implosions and for calibrating and reducing the uncertainty of calibration coefficients of nTOF detector systems on OMEGA and other larger facilities such as the National Ignition Facility (NIF).
Thesis: S.M., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering, 2014.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 75-78).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Nuclear Science and Engineering.