An experimental study of the relative response of plastic scintillators to photons and beta particles within the context of tritium monitoring
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A scintillation counting system has been constructed with the use of BC-400 and EJ-212 series plastic scintillators along with a subminiature photomultiplier tube to investigate the effect of increasing plastic scintillator thickness on system-integrated counts. Measurements have been carried out using four different gamma sources with different energies ranging from 6keV to 1.332MeV and a Ni-63 beta source of maximum energy of 66keV. A simulation was also carried out in MCNP4a to verify the number of H-3 beta particles with max energy 18.6keV that would reach the plastic scintillator in a vacuum setting as well as in an air medium. Scintillator thicknesses ranged from 10μm to 2500μm. The response of the system was determined by measuring the integrated counts as a function of scintillator thickness. The results of these measurements showed the expected positive linear correlation between scintillator thicknesses and integrated counts for all the gamma sources while the slopes of the correlations of each gamma source was a function of the source energy. The beta particle response showed an initial increase of counts with scintillator thickness followed by a slight decrease. The MCNP simulation confirmed an analytical calculation of the fraction of H-3 beta particles for a given air concentration that would reach the scintillator. These results in conjunction with the experimental findings were used to assess the potential of a plastic scintillator system forming the basis of a tritium monitor for the detection of tritium in high-energy gamma backgrounds for Canadian nuclear power workers.