Investigation of the neutron spectrum of americium-beryllium sources by Bonner sphere spectrometry

R. Bedogni, C. Domingo, N. Roberts, D. J. Thomas, M. Chiti, A. Esposito, M. J. Garcia, A. Gentile, Z. Z. Liu, M. De-San-Pedro

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20 Citations (Scopus)


Americium-beryllium neutron sources are certainly the most widely used in neutron dosimetry laboratories, basically due to their long half-life and their energy distribution, which covers the energy domain of interest for many applications in ambient and personal dosimetry. Nevertheless, the spectrum of this source depends on the materials and dimension of the capsule and on the amount and physical-chemical properties of the active material, thus affecting relevant quantities such as the spectrum-averaged fluence-to-dose equivalent conversion coefficient. A EURAMET (European Association of National Metrology Institutes) project (n. 1104) was initiated to experimentally investigate how the neutron spectrum changes for different source sizes and encapsulations with a view to providing improved data for a planned revision of the ISO 8529 Standard Series. The experimental campaign was carried out in the low scatter facility at NPL. Here three different Bonner sphere spectrometers, BSSs, were exposed to the neutron fields produced by three different neutron sources formats: one X3 capsule (1 Ci) and two X14 capsules (10 Ci and 15 Ci). The specific advantage of the BSS is the large sensitivity to low-energy neutrons (E<0.1 MeV) which is the component expected to be most affected by the capsule-to-capsule variations and the component which is least well known. This paper summarises the results of the campaign with emphasis on (1) estimating the low-energy component of the Am-Be neutron spectrum, according to the encapsulation type; (2) evaluating the coherence between the Bonner spheres data and the previous studies performed with high-resolution spectrometers but limited in energy to E>0.1 MeV; (3) understanding whether the ISO-recommended Am-Be spectrum needs to be amended, and for which source formats. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.


  • Americium-beryllium
  • Bonner sphere spectrometer
  • ISO
  • Neutron spectrometry


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