Neutron beams for irradiation applications at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory

DIPC Seminars

Carlo Cazzaniga
UKRI-STFC, United Kingdom
Donostia International Physics Center (Hybrid Seminar)
Felix Fernandez Alonso
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Neutron beams for irradiation applications at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory

The Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) hosts a diverse array of neutron beams at the ISIS spallation neutron source, which has numerous applications in fundamental and applied science. This presentation begins by introducing ISIS, highlighting its capabilities for irradiation experiments. Special attention is firstly given to ChipIR, a beamline with an atmospheric-like fast neutron spectrum, designed for the irradiation of electronics. Additionally, we will introduce thermal neutron beamlines: EMMA and INES in particular, having a water moderated spectrum that has been used for irradiation experiments. A significant recent expansion is the NILE facility, where compact DT and DD neutron generators are housed. These generators are capable of producing monoenergetic neutrons at energies of 14 MeV and 2.5 MeV, respectively. Notably, these generators operate independently of the ISIS source, enhancing our facility's flexibility and capacity for specialized experiments. In the second part of the presentation, the focus shifts to the applications of neutron irradiation. The primary application discussed is the study of radiation effects on electronics, or Single Event Effects testing, an area of growing importance for industry as electronic systems become more prevalent in safety-critical applications. This research is vital in the aerospace sectors, but also more and more at ground level, where we witness the deployment of increasingly scaled electronics, autonomous vehicles with increased functionality, systems often making use of Commercial Off- The-Shelf components with no built-in radiation hardening. Further applications of neutron irradiation to be discussed include neutron activation analysis, with examples of studies of cultural heritage and engineering. I will show contributions to nuclear fusion research, and the development of detectors for particle physics. For the latter, two interesting examples will be the Migdal project, for dark matter search, and studies of neutron-oxygen cross sections of interest for the super-Kamiokande neutrino experiment. These applications demonstrate the broad utility of RAL neutron beams for industry, technology development, and academic research sector.