Measurements of Short-Lived Isomers from Photofission as a Method of Active Interrogation for Special Nuclear Materials
Isomeric fission products, such as 134mTe (T1/2=164 ns) and 136mXe (T1/2=2.95μs), are proposed as a signature of special nuclear materials in active interrogation applications. To test this conjecture, monoenergetic 9, 11, and 13 MeV photons from the HIγS facility are used to induce fission of 235U, 238U, and 239Pu targets. The de-excitation γ rays of the isomers are measured using time-gated spectroscopy with high-purity germanium detectors. The 134mTe and 136mXe isomers are detected and identified by the energy and decay half-life of their characteristic γ-ray transitions. The ratio of yields for these two signature γ rays, corresponding to 134mTe/(136mXe+136I), is found to be strongly correlated with the identity of the fissioning nuclei. These results show that fission-product isomers may be used in active interrogation to detect and identify special nuclear materials, even providing information on the isotopic enrichment. The feasibility of an active interrogation scenario using a bremsstrahlung beam is discussed.
Finch, SW; Bhike, M; Howell, CR; Krishichayan, ; Tornow, W; Tonchev, AP; Wilhelmy, JB
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