(a) INFN—LNF Laboratori Nazionali di Frascati, Via E. Fermi n. 40, 00044 Frascati, Italy
(b) CIEMAT, Av. Complutense 40, 28040 Madrid, Spain
(c) Politecnico di Milano – Dipartimento di Energia, Via Ponzio 34/3, 20133 Milano, Italy
A new neutron spectrometer, designed to simultaneously respond from the thermal domain up to hundreds of MeV neutrons, was designed and built in the framework of the INFN project NESCOFI@BTF. It has been called SP2 (SPherical SPectrometer) and it consists of 31 thermal neutron detectors embedded in a 25 cm diameter polyethylene sphere with an internal 1 cm thick lead shell. The new spectrometer shows similar performance as the Bonner sphere spectrometer, but has the notable advantage of requiring only one exposure to determine the whole spectrum. The SP2 response matrix, previously calculated with MCNP, has been experimentally evaluated with monochromatic reference neutron fields from 147 keV to 14.8 MeV at PTB Braunschweig. As suitable thermal neutron detectors, Dysprosium activation foils were adopted at this stage. The results of the experiment confirmed the correctness of the response matrix within an overall uncertainty of 73%. The next phase of the NESCOFI@BTF project will be the replacement of passive detectors with active counters, thus leading to a real-time spectrometric monitor that is expected to significantly innovate the neutron control task in neutron-producing facilities, such as the beam-lines for industrial irradiation or condensed matter studies.