Characterization of 244Cm neutron sources.Appl Radiat Isot. 2020 Sep; 163:109225.AR
There is a need to find a replacement for the 252Cf sources currently used in Standards-based performance testing of neutron instrumentation. This is a result of its relatively short half-life, concerns about future availability and recent increases in cost. A potential replacement source, 244Cm is evaluated in this study where two commercially available sources have been acquired and their neutron emission spectra measured using a pair of spectrometers. Both instruments showed the 244Cm spontaneous neutron spectrum to be fully consistent with a MCNP6®-calculated spectrum using published Watt fission parameters for 244Cm. In addition, the emission rate of the weaker 244Cm source was established through a direct count rate comparison against a calibrated and similarly encapsulated 252Cf source. The 244Cm source emission rate was found to be in excellent agreement with value stated on the manufacturer's source certificate. It is concluded that 244Cm would be an ideal replacement for 252Cf based on its longer half-life (18.1 y) and its essentially identical neutron emission spectrum. In addition, 244Cm sources are commercially available at reasonable cost.