Spallation reactions studied with 4π-detector arrays
Recently here has been a renewed interest in the study of spallation reactions in basic nuclear physics as well as in potential applications. Spallation reactions induced by light projectiles (protons, antiprotons, pions, etc.) in the GeV range allow the formation of hot nuclei which do not suffer the collective excitations (compression, rotation, deformation) unavoidable when using massive projectiles. Such nuclei provide an ideal testbench for probing their decay as a function of excitation energy. In these investigations, 4π-detector arrays for charged particles and neutrons play a major role in the event-by-event sorting according to the excitation energy of the nucleus.
Spallation reactions induced on heavy nuclei allow the conversion of the incident GeV proton into several tens of evaporated neutrons. The neutron production in thick targets has been investigated in great detail thanks to the use of high efficiency neutron detector arrays. When scattered on samples of inert or biological materials, these neutrons can be used to study details of the material structure. They could also be utilized for the transmutation of long-lived nuclear wastes or for the feeding of sub-critical nuclear reactors.
The role of different types of multi-detector arrays is highlighted in this paper. Several references are also given for different uses of high efficiency neutron detectors in other contexts.