Award Date

August 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Engineering (MSE)


Mechanical Engineering

First Committee Member

Alexander Barzilov

Second Committee Member

William Culbreth

Third Committee Member

Yitung Chen

Fourth Committee Member

Gary Cerefice

Number of Pages



The purpose of this research was to study neutron spectroscopy using the EJ-299-33A plastic scintillator. This scintillator material provided a novel means of detection for fast neutrons, without the disadvantages of traditional liquid scintillation materials. EJ-299-33A provided a more durable option to these materials, making it less likely to be damaged during handling. Unlike liquid scintillators, this plastic scintillator was manufactured from a non-toxic material, making it safer to use, as well as easier to design detectors. The material was also manufactured with inherent pulse shape discrimination abilities, making it suitable for use in neutron detection.

The neutron spectral unfolding technique was developed in two stages. Initial detector response function modeling was carried out through the use of the MCNPX Monte Carlo code. The response functions were developed for a monoenergetic neutron flux. Wavelets were then applied to smooth the response function. The spectral unfolding technique was applied through polynomial fitting and optimization techniques in MATLAB.

Verification of the unfolding technique was carried out through the use of experimentally determined response functions. These were measured on the neutron source based on the Van de Graff accelerator at the University of Kentucky. This machine provided a range of monoenergetic neutron beams between 0.1 MeV and 24 MeV, making it possible to measure the set of response functions of the EJ-299-33A plastic scintillator detector to neutrons of specific energies. The response of a plutonium-beryllium (PuBe) source was measured using the source available at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The neutron spectrum reconstruction was carried out using the experimentally measured response functions. Experimental data was collected in the list mode of the waveform digitizer. Post processing of this data focused on the pulse shape discrimination analysis of the recorded response functions to remove the effects of photons and allow for source characterization based solely on the neutron response. The unfolding technique was performed through polynomial fitting and optimization techniques in MATLAB, and provided an energy spectrum for the PuBe source.


Fast Neutron; Spectral Unfolding; Wavelet


Mechanical Engineering | Nuclear Engineering