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Measurement of ion cascade energies through resolution degradation of alpha particle microcalorimeters



Robert D. Horansky, Greg Stiehl, James A. Beall, Kent D. Irwin, Alex Plionis, Michael W. Rabin, Joel N. Ullom


Atomic cascades caused by ions impinging on bulk materials have remained of interest to the scientific community since their discovery by Goldstein in 1902\cite{Sigmund}. While considerable effort has been spent describing and, more recently, simulating these cascades, tools that can study individual events are lacking and several aspects of cascade behavior remain poorly known. These aspects include the material energies that determine cascade magnitude and the variation between cascades produced by monoenergetic ions. We have recently developed an alpha particle detector with a thermodynamic resolution near 100~eV FWHM and an achieved resolution of 1.06~keV FWHM for 5.3 MeV particles. The detector relies on the absorption of particles by a bulk material and a thermal change in a superconducting thermometer. The achieved resolution of this detector provides the highest resolving power of any energy dispersive technique and a factor of eight improvement over semiconductor detectors. The exquisite resolution can be directly applied to improved measurements of fundamental nuclear decays and nuclear forensics. In addition, we propose that the discrepancy between the thermodynamic and achieved resolution is due to fluctuations in lattice damage caused by ion-induced cascades in the absorber. Hence, this new detector is capable of measuring the kinetic energy converted to lattice damage in individual atomic cascades. This capability allows new measurements of cascade dynamics; for example, we find that the ubiquitous modeling program, SRIM\cite{SRIM}, significantly underestimates the lattice damage caused in bulk tin by 5.3 MeV alpha particles.
Journal of Applied Physics


microcalorimeter, alpha spectrometer, cascade dynamics


Horansky, R. , Stiehl, G. , Beall, J. , Irwin, K. , Plionis, A. , Rabin, M. and Ullom, J. (2010), Measurement of ion cascade energies through resolution degradation of alpha particle microcalorimeters, Journal of Applied Physics, [online], (Accessed May 19, 2024)


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Created February 25, 2010, Updated February 19, 2017