Real-time capabilities of a digital analyzer for mixed-field assay using scintillation detectors

M.D. Aspinall, M.J. Joyce, A. Lavietes, R. Plenteda, F.D. Cave, H. Parker, A. Jones, V. Astromskas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Scintillation detectors offer a single-step detection method for fast neutrons and necessitate real-time acquisition, whereas this is redundant in two-stage thermal detection systems using helium-3 and lithium-6, where the fast neutrons need to be thermalized prior to detection. The relative affordability of scintillation detectors and the associated fast digital acquisition systems have enabled entirely new measurement setups that can consist of sizeable detector arrays. These detectors in most cases rely on photomultiplier tubes, which have significant tolerances and result in variations in detector response functions. The detector tolerances and other environmental instabilities must be accounted for in measurements that depend on matched detector performance. This paper presents recent advances made to a high-speed FPGA-based digitizer. The technology described offers a complete solution for fast-neutron scintillation detectors by integrating multichannel high-speed data acquisition technology with dedicated detector high-voltage supplies. This configuration has significant advantages for large detector arrays that require uniform detector responses. We report on bespoke control software and firmware techniques that exploit real-time functionality to reduce setup and acquisition time, increase repeatability, and reduce statistical uncertainties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)945-950
Number of pages6
JournalIEEE Transactions on Nuclear Science
Issue number3
Early online date17 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017

Bibliographical note

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Funding: EPSRC (EP/L025671/1); and Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award


  • coincidence techniques
  • data acquisition systems
  • detector instrumentation
  • digital signal processing
  • neutron imaging
  • neutron spectroscopy
  • neutrons
  • real-time systems
  • scintillation detectors


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