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95. KFN meeting

German Committee Research with Neutrons


Wednesday, Sept 2, 2020, video conference

Information and discussion on accelerato-driven neutron sources


This meeting is intended to provide information and discussion on the topic of accelerator-driven neutron sources. Guests are also invited to attend.

Concept of accelerator-driven neutron sources

In the international context, the development of accelerator-driven neutron sources is currently being pursued with great vigour, as it is believed in many places that these neutron sources represent a sensible and feasible option for neutron scattering and its long-term further development.

Neutrons can be produced in reactors, spallation sources and by nuclear processes. In nuclear processes, neutrons are released through so-called stripping or capture processes. Compared to fission in reactors or spallation, however, these processes are less efficient. Neutron generators are widely used for imaging applications or in neutron analysis (prompt gamma activation analysis), for which a lower neutron flux is sufficient. Accelerator-driven neutron sources with the aid of electron accelerators are used, for example, at the HZDR in Dresden-Rossendorf in nuclear physics or with a cyclotron at the PTB in Braunschweig for dosimetry and metrology.

To achieve higher neutron fluxes, proton accelerators with the highest possible current strength and energies in the MeV range should be used. The flux generated here can be used more efficiently due to the compact size of the facility. Such smaller accelerator-driven neutron sources exist in the USA (LENS) and in Japan. Concepts for the development and use of such facilities are currently also being worked on in France, Spain, Italy, Canada and China.

With appropriate proton current strengths, a neutron flux can be generated that corresponds to comparable fluxes in medium reactors or spallation sources. Compact accelerator-driven neutron sources (CANS) are intrinsically scalable. The planned HBS at Forschungszentrum Jülich is at the upper end of this range with a planned power of 100 kW.

Laser-driven accelerators are subject to fundamental limitations in the generation of thermal and cold neutrons, for the generation of radioisotopes and for the transmutation of radioactive waste. Although the generation of fast neutrons with laser-driven accelerators would be conceivable, in terms of costs and possibilities, laser-driven accelerators are not an option in the medium term. Opinions differ on the question of whether lasers could play a role in the long term.

Arguments for accelerator-driven neutron sources:

  • Training for the large sources
  • Preservation of know-how
  • High variability and flexibility of the source, e.g. for the use of complex sample environments (e.g. for geosciences
  • Specific applications, e.g. KWS in the vertical
  • Serial measurements for industrial applications
  • Availability for bread-and-butter experiments and test experiments
  • Another mainstay, additional technological possibilities
  • Favourable operating costs
  • Short realisation time
  • Availability on site

KFN agrees on the following statement:

"We strongly support the development of the promising concepts for future sources."


The next video conference with focus on the strategy paper is planned for Sept. 17, 2020. The  spinecho instrument at the ESS will be discussed in the meeting thereafter.


Wednesday, Sept 17, 2020, video conference


Instrumentation award

The announcement of an instrumentation prize in addition to the Wolfram Prandl Prize is discussed.

Strategy paper

Details of the planned KFN strategy brochure are discussed.


The next KFN video conference will take place on Oct 2, 2020.

Filed under: KFN, Protokoll