Quantifying the benefits of ultrahigh energy resolution for gamma-ray spectrometry



Cryogenic Gamma-ray spectrometers operating at temperatures of ∼0.1 K provide an order of magnitude better energy resolution than conventional germanium detectors. Ultra-high energy resolution improves the accuracy of non-destructive analysis of nuclear materials, since a better separation of lines reduces statistical errors as well as systematic errors from background subtraction and efficiency correction. We are developing cryogenic Gamma-spectrometers based on bulk tin absorbers and superconducting molybdenum-copper sensors for nuclear forensics and non-proliferation applications. Here we quantify the improvements in accuracy for isotope analysis with cryogenic detectors in terms of detector performance for different cases of line separation, line intensity ratios and background levels. Precise measurements of isotope ratios are crucial in the context of nuclear attribution, since they provide signatures of composition, age, origin, intended purpose and processing history of illicit nuclear materials. (© 2005 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim)