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Neutron facilities in the Czech republic

Neutron Facilities in the Czech Republic for Calibration and Testing of ESA Compliant Neutron Sensitive Devices

Preparing for testing neutron sensitive devices from ESA

Project duration: 2010 to 2012

Project manager: Carlos Granja

The project was devoted to the study and evaluation of existing neutron sources in the Czech Republic with view of preparing these facilities for testing and calibration of neutron sensitive device by ESA. The idea behind is to assess and put together a collection of neutron sources and personnel as well as radiation source and radiation detection methods, having as common factor the potential of fulfilling requests and needs by ESA with the capability of providing rather complete or also specific measurements and tests of neutron sensitive devices intended for space applications.

The project started from the survey and identification of suitable laboratories with the technological base installed as well as with trained personnel. Then followed determination and matching of needs by ESA, testing, verification and if possible/needed also the calibration of parameters and operational conditions of the various sources, the testing and if possible calibration of neutron detectors in order to determinate and recommend instrument upgrades.

Thus, in addition to the task of evaluating the sources, the project included tasks of testing and measuring radiation detectors as well. These detectors include not only devices installed or conventionally used in laboratories, but also testing and study of novel devices and prototypes developed both by the project holder institution (IEAP CTU) and ESA or ESA subcontractors. The results of the project are more precise, extensive and up-to-date description of concerned facilities, study and evaluation of the sources together with their present status, and recommendations for their upgrades as well as future work.

The project was carried out with ESA grant support No. 22908/09/NL/CBi.

The Institute of Experimental and Applied Physics

IEAP is the research center of the Czech Technical University in Prague (CTU) for applied and fundamental research in experimental physics of the microworld. R&D focuses on advanced instrumentation and new methods with novel applications in biomedical imaging and space. The IEAP CTU has presently over 80 staff members with one fifth of foreigners and many Ph.D. students and young researchers. The institute is equipped with modern facilities such as high-resolution micro-tomography units and widerange gamma-ray source facilities designed and constructed by IEAP teams. The latter facilities serve for calibration of spacecraft instruments including a transportable station for remote onsite measurements at ESA Test Centers. The institute operates also a Van de Graaff accelerator which provides light ion and mono-energetic fast neutron sources for space-related research.

What would you name as main benefits of the project to you and your institute?

“This project gave me opportunity to manage and carry out multidisciplinary tasks involving several independent teams and instruments installed at highly specialized laboratories in the Czech Republic. For my institution, the project brought new experience in benchmarking processes and reference protocols requirements, which represent standard adopted by ESA and space related industries. It allowed to increase the local know-how and raise the technological readiness level of these facilities. It greatly helps to increase competitiveness of the Czech Republic at the European level. Of particular impact is the possibility to expand the field of applications opened by space research into our field of expertise. Finally, the project allowed us to access novel technologies which are developed abroad.”