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Physics  2015 

A new anti-neutrino detection technique based on positronium tagging with plastic scintillators

DOI: 10.1016/j.nima.2015.06.021

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The main signature for anti-neutrino detection in reactor and geo-neutrino experiments based on scintillators is provided by the space-time coincidence of positron and neutron produced in the Inverse Beta Decay reaction. Such a signature strongly suppresses backgrounds and allows for measurements performed underground with a relatively high signal-to-background ratio. In an aboveground environment, however, the twofold coincidence technique is not sufficient to efficiently reject the high background rate induced by cosmogenic events. Enhancing the positron-neutron twofold coincidence efficiency has the potential to pave the way future aboveground detectors for reactor monitoring. We propose a new detection scheme based on a threefold coincidence, between the positron ionization, the ortho-positronium (o-Ps) decay, and the neutron capture, in a sandwich detector with alternated layers of plastic scintillator and aerogel powder. We present the results of a set of dedicated measurements on the achievable light yield and on the o-Ps formation and lifetime. The efficiencies for signal detection and background rejection of a preliminary detector design are also discussed.


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