Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry

, Volume 297, Issue 3, pp 331–336 | Cite as

A software architectural framework specification for neutron activation analysis

  • J. A. Preston
  • C. N. Grant


Neutron Activation Analysis (NAA) is a sensitive multi-element nuclear analytical technique that has been routinely applied by research reactor (RR) facilities to environmental, nutritional, health related, geological and geochemical studies. As RR facilities face calls to increase their research output and impact, with existing or reducing budgets, automation of NAA offers a possible solution. However, automation has many challenges, not the least of which is a lack of system architecture standards to establish acceptable mechanisms for the various hardware/software and software/software interactions among data acquisition systems, specialised hardware such as sample changers, sample loaders, and data processing modules. This lack of standardization often results in automation hardware and software being incompatible with existing system components, in a facility looking to automate its NAA operations. This limits the availability of automation to a few RR facilities with adequate budgets or in-house engineering resources. What is needed is a modern open system architecture for NAA, that provides the required set of functionalities. This paper describes such an “architectural framework” (OpenNAA), and portions of a reference implementation. As an example of the benefits, calculations indicate that applying this architecture to the compilation and QA steps associated with the analysis of 35 elements in 140 samples, with 14 SRM’s, can reduce the time required by over 80 %. The adoption of open standards in the nuclear industry has been very successful over the years in promoting interchangeability and maximising the lifetime and output of nuclear measurement systems. OpenNAA will provide similar benefits within the NAA application space, safeguarding user investments in their current system, while providing a solid path for development into the future.


Neutron activation analysis Gamma-ray spectrometry Spectrum analysis Open-source 



The OpenNAA RI draws heavily on various open source libraries and codes that provide its functionality. The authors are grateful to these individuals and colleagues especially those in OpenGammaX [17] that provided their code to facilitate the work.


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.International Centre for Environmental and Nuclear Sciences, 2 Anguilla CloseUniversity of the West IndiesKingston 7West Indies

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