Ultracold-neutron production in a pulsed-neutron beam line

C. M. Lavelle, C. Y. Liu, W. Fox, G. Manus, P. M. McChesney, D. J. Salvat, Y. Shin, M. Makela, C. Morris, A. Saunders, A. Couture, A. R. Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present the results of an ultracold neutron (UCN) production experiment in a pulsed-neutron beam line at the Los Alamos Neutron Scattering Center. The experimental apparatus allows for a comprehensive set of measurements of UCN production as a function of target temperature, incident neutron energy, target volume, and applied magnetic field. However, the low counting statistics of the UCN signal can be overwhelmed by the large background associated with the scattering of the primary cold-neutron flux that is required for UCN production. We have developed a background subtraction technique that takes advantage of the very different time-of-flight profiles between the UCN and the cold neutrons, in the pulsed beam. Using the unique timing structure, we can reliably extract the UCN signal. Solid ortho-H22 is used to calibrate UCN transmission through the apparatus, which is designed primarily for studies of UCN production in solid O2. In addition to setting the overall detection efficiency in the apparatus, UCN production data using solid H22 suggest that the UCN upscattering cross section is smaller than previous estimates, indicating the deficiency of the incoherent approximation widely used to estimate inelastic cross sections in the thermal and cold regimes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number015502
JournalPhysical Review C - Nuclear Physics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 19 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics


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