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A valuable tool in the development of new neutron detectors

Right now, important steps are being made in the design and development of new, large-scale neutron detectors that will be part of the instrumentation in the world’s most powerful neutron source; the European Spallation Source (ESS) in Lund, Sweden.

The ESS – European Spallation Source – is a planned, gigantic research installation which will include the world’s strongest «neutron canon», a superconducting linear proton accelerator. At the moment, ESS is in a pre-construction phase, but in 2013 the construction phase will begin.

IFE is a node for the Norwegian collaboration with the ESS, and has dedicated three joint positions; a Researcher, a Post Doc. and an Engineer to work with ESS-projects. Two beam channels in theJEEP II research reactor at Kjeller have been reserved for experiments related to the ESS-project.

 

Currently, the main focus is to test new neutron detectors.
- Our goal is to test new detectors that will be used in the ESS. Right now we are testing boron-10 coated blades, to see if we understand their behaviour, says Isabel Llamas Jansa. Isabel is a Researcher in the Physics Department at IFE, and is devoting 50 % of her time to projects related to ESS.

The boron-10 blades have recently been tested at ILL in Grenoble, France, and at IFE they want to reproduce the results.

- We are understanding the test beam line by using the blades. Then, we can be sure we understand the results. The major challenge is that ESS will have 22 different instruments, and each needs a specific detector, explains Isabel.

Detectors are essential equipment in laboratories. The detectors measure how the neutrons or the synchrotron light interact with the scientist’s sample. Thus, they are crucial for the gathering of information that will enable understanding of the characteristics of the sample.

Neutrons have no charge and therfore can not be easily detected. A neutron detector is based on the interaction between the neutron and the material of the detector.

Back, from the left: Richard Hall-Wilton, Group Leader Detectors (ESS), Isabel Llamas Jansa, Researcher (IFE/ESS). In front:  Kalliopi Kanaki, Post-Doc Detectors (ESS) and Xiao Xiao Cai, Post Doc (IFE).Photo: Mona L. Ramstad, IFE.Two members from the Detector Group of ESS recently visited IFE to perform tests on the new, boron-10 detectors, using the beam line 6 in the JEEP II reactor. Back, from the left: Richard Hall-Wilton, Group Leader Detectors (ESS), Isabel Llamas Jansa, Researcher (IFE/ESS). In front:  Xiao Xiao Cai, Post Doc. (IFE) and Kalliopi Kanaki, Post Doc. Detectors (ESS). Photo: Mona L. Ramstad (IFE).

 

Strengthen the Norwegian contribution
As part of IFE’s role as national coordinator, IFE invited researchers from a number of Norwegian universities and institutes to discuss possibilities and common interests related to the ESS-project.

- There are Norwegian research groups with experience that may be of use to the ESS. For example researchers who have experience from working with big detectors in CERN, who can provide valuable knowledge. We also would like to increase the Norwegian participation in ESS. Therefore we are inviting other researchers, to let them know what we are working at, Isabel comments.

The meeting took place at Kjeller December 3rd, and gathered a group of about 15 researchers from different fields. The Research Council of Norway, IFE and ESS sponsored the initiative.

 

What’s next?
ESS is currently collaborating with more than 40 laboratories in 20 countries, forming an ESS community of collaborative R&D. A financing plan for the construction phase, covering in-kind and cash contributions is now under negotiation. Legally binding international agreements will be signed with the partner countries at the end of the Design Update Phase, estimated to conclude in late 2012 or early 2013.

In 2019 the first neutrons will be produced, and seven instruments will be installed. In 2025 all 22 instruments will be in operation. The research facility will provide a unique infrastructure for advancing European material science, and will benefit research and industry in many fields, from energy technology to medicine and life science, to mention a few.

 

Facts about ESS
ESS – European Spallation Source – is a planned, gigantic research installation which will include the world’s strongest «neutron canon».

  • This new facility will be around 5 times more powerful than today's leading facilities in Japan and the US.
  • ESS will be completed in 2019, with the construction phase starting in 2013.
  • Estimated cost is 1.4 billion Euros.

Photo: Mona L. RamstadThe boron-10 coated blades that were tested to see how they interact with the neutron beam. Photo: Mona L. Ramstad.

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