Detector Seminar

The neutron time-of-flight facility n_TOF at CERN

by Alberto Mengoni (ENEA & INFN, Bologna)




The n_TOF facility at CERN has been operating during the last 20 years. Based on an idea by Carlo Rubbia, it is a neutron spallation source, driven by the 20 GeV/c proton beam from the CERN PS accelerator. Neutrons in a very wide energy range (from GeV, down to sub-eV kinetic energy) are generated by a massive Lead spallation target feeding two experimental areas set at 185 meters (EAR1, horizonal with respect to the proton beam direction)  and at 20 meters (EAR2, vertical) from the spallation source. Neutron energies for experiments are selected by the time-of-flight technique, (hence the name n_TOF), while the long flight paths ensure the possibility of doing very high-resolution measurements.

Over the course of two decades, several dozen experiments have been performed by the n_TOF Collaboration, with applications ranging from nuclear astrophysics (synthesis of the heavy elements in stars, big bang nucleosynthesis, nuclear cosmo-chronology), to advanced nuclear technologies (nuclear data for applications, nuclear safety) to basic nuclear science (structure and decay of highly excited compound states).

During LS2, the facility went through a substantial upgrade with a new target-moderator assembly, refurbishing of the neutron beam lines and experimental areas. An additional measuring and irradiation station (the NEAR Station) has been envisaged and its capabilities for performing material test studies and new physics opportunities are presently explored.

An overview of the facility and of its experimental plan for future activities will be presented, with a particular emphasis on detection systems specifically designed over the years by several teams in the n_TOF Collaboration.

Organized by

Burkhard Schmidt (EP-DT)

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