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Science and Technology of Nuclear Installations
Volume 2012, Article ID 240693, 7 pages
Research Article

Detector Dead Time Determination and Optimal Counting Rate for a Detector Near a Spallation Source or a Subcritical Multiplying System

Division of Nuclear Fission, CIEMAT, Avenida Complutense 40, 28040 Madrid, Spain

Received 14 November 2011; Revised 10 February 2012; Accepted 14 February 2012

Academic Editor: Alberto Talamo

Copyright © 2012 V. Bécares and J. Blázquez. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The operation of accelerator-driven systems or spallation sources requires the monitoring of intense neutron fluxes, which may be billions-fold more intense than the fluxes obtained with usual radioactive sources. If a neutron detector is placed near a very intense source, it can become saturated because of detector dead time. On the contrary, if it is placed far away from the source, it will lose counting statistics. For this reason, there must exist an optimal position for placing the detector. The optimal position is defined as the one with the minimal relative uncertainty in the counting rate. In this work, we review the techniques to determine the detector dead time that can be applied with an accelerator-driven subcritical system or a spallation source. For the case of a spallation source, counting rates do not follow Poisson's statistics because of the multiplicity of the number of neutrons emitted by incident proton. It has been found a simple expression that relates the optimal counting rate with the source multiplicity and the uncertainty in the determination of the dead time.