SU-E-T-107: An Investigation Into Attenuation Effects On the Energy Spectrum for 137Cs Using Monte Carlo Techniques




The calibration of radiation protection instrumentation including ionization chambers, scintillators, and Geiger Mueller (GM) counters used as survey meters are often done using 137Cs irradiators. During calibration, irradiators use a combination of attenuators with various thicknesses to modulate the beam to a known air-kerma rate. The variations in energy spectra as a result of these attenuators are not accounted for and may play a role in the energy-dependent response of survey meters. This study uses an experimentally validated irradiator geometry modeled in the MCNP5 transport code to characterize the effects of attenuation on the energy spectrum.


A Hopewell Designs G-10 137Cs irradiator with lead attenuators of thicknesses of 0.635, 1.22, 2.22, and 4.32 cm, was used in this study. The irradiator geometry was modeled in MCNP5 and validated by comparing measured and simulated percent depth dose (PDD) and cross-field profiles. Variations in MCNP5 simulated spectra with increasing amounts of attenuation were characterized using the relative intensity of the 662 keV peak and the average energy.


Simulated and measured PDDs and profiles agreed within the associated uncertainty. The relative intensity of the 662 keV peak for simulated spectra normalized to the intensity of the unattenuated spectra ranged from 0.16% to 100% based on attenuation thickness. The average energy for simulated spectra for attenuators ranged from 582 keV with no attenuation to 653 keV with 5.54 cm of attenuation. Statistical uncertainty for MCNP5 simulations ranged from 0.11% to 3.69%.


This study successfully used MCNP5 to validate a 137Cs irradiator geometry and characterize variations in energy spectra between different amounts of attenuation. Variations in the average energy of up to 12% were determined through simulations, and future work will aim to determine the effects of these differences on survey meter response and calibration.