Ultra-short, beamed source of laser-driven epithermal neutrons

Mirfayzi, S. R. and Mori, T. and Rusby, D. and Armstrong, C. and Ahmed, H. and Borghesi, M. and Brenner, C.M. and Clarke, R.J. and Davidson, Z.E. and Doria, D. and Jones, C. P. and McKenna, P. and Neely, D. and Scott, T. B. and Yogo, A. and Kar, S. (2019) Ultra-short, beamed source of laser-driven epithermal neutrons. Applied Physics Letters. ISSN 0003-6951 (In Press)

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Development of intense neutron sources driven by laser will enable a range of scientific investigations and new opportunities for industrial and medical applications. In particular, an ultra-short, point-like source of epithermal neutrons using laser-driven ultra-short ion pulses would open new opportunities for many unprecedented time-resolved spectroscopic and imaging applications. This paper reports the first measurement of the ultra-short bursts of epithermal (sub-MeV) neutron beams using intense lasers, produced predominately by the endothermic 7Li(p,n)7Be reaction at the near energy threshold. Using a 6LiF scintillator in time-of-flight arrangement, epithermal neutrons of ∼ 107 n/sr/pulse in the range of 20-200 keV were measured, which intrinsically offers a beamed feature and ultra-short duration. The mechanism of epithermal neutron production and the crosscalibration of the diagnostic employed for extending the spectral measurements down to epithermal range are discussed.