Journal of Research of the National Institute of Standards and Technology
We have detected Lyman alpha radiation, 121.6 nm light produced from the n = 2 to n = 1 transition in atomic hydrogen, as a product of the 3He (n, tp) nuclear reaction occurring in a cell of 3He gas. The predominant source of this radiation appears to be decay of the 2p state of tritium produced by charge transfer and excitation collisions with the background 3He gas. Under the experimental conditions reported here we find yields of tens of Lyman alpha photons for every neutron reaction. These results suggest a method of cold neutron detection that is complementary to existing technologies that use proportional counters. In particular, this approach may provide single neutron sensitivity with wide dynamic range capability, and a class of neutron detectors that are compact and operate at relatively low voltages.
J. Res. Natl. Inst. Stand. Technol. Vol. 113, No. 2, p. 69
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