The Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee is a 1 GeV proton accelerator with a spallation target system that sends cold and thermal neutron pulses to state-of-the-art instruments that provide a variety of capabilities to researchers across a broad range of disciplines including physics, chemistry, biology, and materials science. Completed in 2006, the SNS is the most powerful spallation neutron source in the world. It is operated by ORNL for the U.S. Dept. of Energy Office of Science under its Basic Energy Sciences Scientific Users Facility program. Approved upgrades to the SNS accelerator will double its power capacity to support additional research facilities for decades to come.
In 2015 – at the request of the Federal Aviation Administration – an SNS study was issued on capabilities for providing high-energy neutron beams to serve the aerospace avionics industry’s growing need for neutron irradiation testing components and systems for semiconductor errors commonly known as Single Event Effects. An identified low-power spallation source option for this mission would provide neutron beams with an energy spectrum matching that in the atmosphere from cosmic rays, at an accelerated rate, with small beams (mm scale) for components and large beams (m scale) for complete systems. It includes two test areas each operating in excess of 4,000 hours annually. Providers of ground-based electronics systems equipment could also make use of this capability (e.g., for autonomous vehicles or high-reliability computing systems). Thermal neutrons and protons could be sent to test areas when requested. It is possible to add an area for direct proton irradiation for space electronics SEE test applications.
At an unrelated 2016 ORNL workshop that explored the possibility of a future muon source at the SNS for performing muon spectroscopy measurements (mSR), it was noted that the SEE facility concept used ORNL developed laser stripping technology to send the proton beam to the low-power spallation target. Because laser stripping can easily provide very short (tens of nanoseconds) proton pulses on a target, very short muon pulses could be produced. World leading resolution capabilities for mSR researchers could be achieved while integrating with the proposed capabilities for SEE testing.
The serendipitous compatibility of the SEE testing and mSR facilities have evolved into the SEEMS proposal concept. Both missions can be simultaneously conducted in a common facility with substantial savings compared to independent facilities – and by using the SNS accelerator – at a huge savings for new green field projects. With the low duty factor needed by SEEMS, there will be no impact on operation of the SNS neutron scattering science facilities. But the world-leading brightness of the SNS accelerator means that the muon particle flux at the SEEMS facility will be orders of magnitude better than existing facilities.
This meeting will assess the needs of both the SEE testing and µSR communities, and how these needs can be addressed by the SEEMS facility. The scientific/industrial capabilities will be covered, as will the feasibility of various operating models.