Superconducting calorimetric alpha particle sensors for nuclear nonproliferation applications

Horansky, Robert D.; Ullom, Joel N.; Beall, James A.; Hilton, Gene C.; Irwin, Kent D.; Dry, Donald E.; Hastings, Elizabeth P.; Lamont, Stephen P.; Rudy, Clifford R.; Rabin, Michael W.
September 2008
Applied Physics Letters;9/22/2008, Vol. 93 Issue 12, p123504
Academic Journal
Identification of trace nuclear materials is usually accomplished by alpha spectrometry. Current detectors cannot distinguish critical elements and isotopes. We have developed a detector called a microcalorimeter, which achieves a resolution of 1.06 keV for 5.3 MeV alphas, the highest resolving power of any energy dispersive measurement. With this exquisite resolution, we can unambiguously identify the 240Pu/239Pu ratio in Pu, a critical measurement for ascertaining the intended use of nuclear material. Furthermore, we have made a direct measurement of the 209Po ground state decay.


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