The Solar Neutron Tracking (SONTRAC) Instrument for the Detection of Fast Neutrons

Conference Paper


  • Abstract—The detection of fast neutrons has important applications in several fields including solar, geospace and planetary physics. Neutrons are challenging to detect and measurements of them typically suffer from high background rates. High-energy neutrons (>50 MeV) pose even more challenges, because the traditional double-scatter technique based on a time-of-flight (ToF) measurement is limited by short flight paths and small detector sizes characteristic of small satellite platforms. It is now possible to perform high-energy neutron measurements inside a large monolithic detector by imaging the recoil proton tracks, thus eliminating the need for a measure of the time-of-flight. The concept is based on a spectrometer assembled from numerous thin hydrogenous scintillating fibers that allow ionization track imaging. Fine grained readout is now possible with arrays of 1-mm pitch silicon photomultipliers (SiPMs). The Solar Neutron TRACking (SONTRAC) instrument, equipped with scintillating fibers readout with SiPMs sensors, provides high-resolution, fine grained, imaging of fast (between 20-200 MeV) neutron scatters in a compact, low-power design ideal for small satellite (and aircraft) platforms. We discuss below applications of this technology and performance characteristics of the prototype SONTRAC instrument.
  • Authors

  • de Nolfo, Georgia
  • Suarez, George
  • Mitchell, J Grant
  • Legere, Jason
  • Messner, Richard
  • Ryan, James
  • DuMonthier, Jeff
  • Liceaga-Indart, Iker
  • Bruno, Alessandro
  • Tatoli, Teresa