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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Coaxial Mono-Energetic Gamma Generator for Active Interrogation

  • Author(s): Ludewigt, Bernhard A.
  • et al.

Compact mono-energetic photon sources are sought for active interrogation systems to detect shielded special nuclear materials in, for example, cargo containers, trucks and other vehicles. A prototype gamma interrogation source has been designed and built that utilizes the 11B(p,gamma)12C reaction to produce 12 MeV gamma-rays which are near the peak of the photofission cross section. In particular, the 11B(p,gamma)12C resonance at 163 kV allows the production of gammas at low proton acceleration voltages, thus keeping the design of a gamma generator comparatively small and simple. A coaxial design has been adopted with a toroidal-shaped plasma chamber surrounding a cylindrical gamma production target. The plasma discharge is driven by a 2 MHz rf-power supply (capable up to 50 kW) using a circular rf-antenna. Permanent magnets embedded in the walls of the plasma chamber generate a multi-cusp field that confines the plasma and allows higher plasma densities and lower gas pressures. About 100 proton beamlets are extracted through a slotted plasma electrode towards the target at the center of the device that is at a negative 180 kV. The target consists of LaB6 tiles that are brazed to a water-cooled cylindrical structure. The generator is designed to operate at 500 Hz with 20 mu s long pulses, and a 1percent duty factor by pulsing the ion source rf-power. A first-generation coaxial gamma source has been built for low duty factor experiments and testing.

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