Neutron Radiation, Radiation Measurement and the JLab APEX Experiment

Kaluarachchi, Maduka, Physics - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Cates, Gordon, Department of Physics, University of Virginia

The A-prime Experiment (APEX), which is approved to run at the Thomas Jefferson Accelerator Facility (JLab) Hall A, will search for a new vector boson that is hypothesized to be a possible force carrier that couples to dark matter. APEX results should be sensitive to the mass range of 65 MeV to 550 MeV, and high sensitivity will be achieved by means of a high intensity 100 muA beam on a 0.3 g/cm2 Tungsten target resulting in very high luminosity. The experiment should be able to observe an A-prime with a coupling constant 1 x 10^7 times smaller than the electromagnetic coupling constant.

To deal safely with such enormous intensity and luminosity, a full radiation analysis must be used. A Geant4 Monte Carlo simulation was performed to study the radiation environments expected in the JLab Hall A during the APEX experiment. We benchmarked our simulations with measurements carried out during past experiments such as the Pb Radius Experiment (PREX-I). Our PREX-I simulations agreed reasonably well with measurements performed by measuring the change in dark current in a Silicon Photomultipliers as a means of radiation damage. However, our simulations were initially significantly higher than the neutron dose measurements (using NP100) in Hall A. The apparent disagreement hints to several potential problems in NP100 measurements including the dead-time. Further, we identified radiation sources in the beam line and tested several shielding strategies to lower the radiation in Hall A. We characterized several thermal neutron detectors and also studied possibility of damage to electronics due to neutron radiation. We successfully demonstrated that the APEX experiment can be carried out in JLab Hall A without worrying about radiation damage to expensive electronics.

The A-prime will appear as a narrow resonance in the invariant mass spectrum of e+e- pairs resulting from the electron beam scattering off the APEX target. In this search for the A-prime, it is critical to have a good mass resolution which is mainly dominated by the track measurement uncertainties. We studied a novel method to calibrate the HRS optics which will improve the accuracy of track measurements. Our results will be used to design HRS calibration runs for the APEX experiment.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Monte Carlo simulations, Geant4, Radiation, Bonner Sphere, Scintillating Fiber, JLab Hall A, Radiation damage to electronics, SNOOPY, NP100
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