Digital pulse-shape discrimination applied to an ultra-low-background gas-proportional counting system: first results
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A new ultra-low-background proportional counter design was recently developed at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). This design, along with an ultra-low-background counting system which provides passive and active shielding with radon exclusion, has been developed to complement a new shallow underground laboratory (~30 m water-equivalent) constructed at PNNL. After these steps to mitigate dominant backgrounds (cosmic rays, external gamma-rays, radioactivity in materials), remaining background events do not exclusively arise from ionization of the proportional counter gas. Digital pulse-shape discrimination (PSD) is thus employed to further improve measurement sensitivity. In this work, a template shape is generated for each individual sample measurement of interest, a “self-calibrating” template. Differences in event topology can also cause differences in pulse shape. In this work, the temporal region analyzed for each event is refined to maximize background discrimination while avoiding unwanted sensitivity to event topology. This digital PSD method is applied to sample and background data, and initial measurement results from a biofuel methane sample are presented in the context of low-background measurements currently being developed.
KeywordsSignal processing Pulse-shape discrimination Proportional counter Tritium Carbon-14 Biofuel Low background
This work was performed at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory with Government support under Contract Number DE-AC06-76RLO-1830 awarded by the United States Department of Energy.
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