A conceptual design optimization of a fast neutron tomography system was performed. The system is based on a compact deuterium-deuterium fast neutron generator and an arc-shaped array of individual neutron detectors. The array functions as a position sensitive one-dimensional detector allowing tomographic reconstruction of a two-dimensional cross section of an object up to 10. cm across. Each individual detector is to be optically isolated and consists of a plastic scintillator and a Silicon Photomultiplier for measuring light produced by recoil protons. A deterministic geometry-based model and a series of Monte Carlo simulations were used to optimize the design geometry parameters affecting the reconstructed image resolution. From this, it is expected that with an array of 100 detectors a reconstructed image resolution of ~1.5. mm can be obtained. Other simulations were performed in order to optimize the scintillator depth (length along the neutron path) such that the best ratio of direct to scattered neutron counts is achieved. This resulted in a depth of 6-8. cm and an expected detection efficiency of 33-37%. Based on current operational capabilities of a prototype neutron generator being developed at the Paul Scherrer Institute, planned implementation of this detector array design should allow reconstructed tomograms to be obtained with exposure times on the order of a few hours.
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