Innovation in the real-time signal processing from Miniature Fission Chambers detectors

The French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) is a key player in research, development, and innovation in four main areas: defense and security, low carbon energies (nuclear and renewable energies), technological research for industry, and fundamental research in the physical sciences and life sciences.

With a mutual agreement, CEA and Instrumentation Technologies started a collaboration on the industrialization of the MONACO ‘Multichannel Online Neutron Acquisition in Campbell mOde’ system prototype, developed by CEA.

The MONACO system counts as a novelty in real-time signal processing from Miniature Fission Chambers detectors. It offers the combination of pulse, Campbelling, and current mode available at the same time, which is a capability that no other instrument has implemented yet.

The device allows the user to measure the neutron flux in research reactors and fusion machines, by covering the entire operating range with a single neutron detector (miniature fission chamber and self-powered neutron detectors).

In the first phase, the development of a preamplifier prototype, capable of identifying current pulses in the range of a few uA in amplitude with some nanosecond duration, was successfully concluded. Special attention was given to the output signal noise figure, and to the capability to polarise the detector up to 1 kV.

The preamplifier frontend will be integrated into the MONACO system, allowing it to retrieve signals in pulse mode, Campbelling mode, and current mode, allowing to characterize the reactor behavior from low power to high power.

The next industrialization phases are now in discussion, and the final version of the industrialized system is foreseen on the market in 2022.

This collaborative project will involve Instrumentation Technologies for the next years and hopefully, it opens new paths in the field of Research Nuclear Reactors.