• Particle Discrimination Using a High-Pressure Xenon Gas Scintillation Detector

      Martoff, Charles Jeffrey; Burkhardt, T. W. (Theodore W.), 1940-; Tao, R. (Rongjia); Wu, Dong Ho; Varnum, Susan A. (Temple University. Libraries, 2012)
      This work presents results on the study of the scintillation of high-pressure Xenon gas irradiated by various sources. Noble gases such as Xenon give off characteristic scintillation light when irradiated. The goal of the study was to develop a characteristic based on the scintillation time response of Xenon gas that would reliably discriminate between events from different types of primary radiation (neutron or gamma). A reliable discrimination characteristic would enable the development of room temperature, gas phase detectors for use in the search for Galactic Dark Matter. The surprising result of the present work was that a reliable discrimination characteristic existed for distinguishing x-ray, gamma ray, and alpha particle events. Results for neutrons were negative. This was due to several factors: Ionization tracks in xenon generally form two roughly cylindrical regions. A region near the center of the track, called the core, has very dense ionization. An outer region, called the penumbra, has sparse ionization. In Xenon, recombination of ions and the subsequent scintillation from the penumbra region happens slowly and can be easily distinguished from scintillation that happens in the core region. Nuclear recoils resulting from neutron collisions that give recoil energies in the same range as that predicted for WIMP-nuclear collisions are of such low energy that they do not produce a significant penumbra region in Xenon gas. As such, the scintillation time response for these events is similar to that of high-energy gamma rays. Other results of the present work include: The amount of energy deposited in the gas needed to produce a scintillation photon was measured for gamma rays and was found to be in agreement with results from other experiments. Low-energy gamma rays appeared to produce more scintillation photons for an equal amount of energy deposited than high-energy gamma rays. The decay of the singlet and triplet molecular states of xenon was observed and the lifetimes of these states were measured. The singlet state lifetime was found to be independent of pressure while the triplet state lifetime was dependent on pressure. The lifetimes were measured and compared to previous results. A better understanding of the ionization, recombination, and scintillation processes of gaseous Xenon was achieved. Argon gas has been proposed as an alternative to Xenon gas for use in a high-pressure gas scintillation detector due to its lower mass and its property of forming a core ionization region that is much less dense than the core region of xenon. This substitution may allow for a reliable discrimination characteristic to be developed.