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An empirical investigation of the scintillation mechanism in a pressurized 4He gas fast neutron detector was conducted using pulse shape fitting. Scintillation signals from neutron interactions were measured and averaged to produce a single generic neutron pulse shape from both a 252Cf spontaneous fission source and a (d,d) neutron generator. An expression for light output over time was then developed by treating the decay of helium excited states in the same manner as the decay of radioactive isotopes. This pulse shape expression was fitted to the measured neutron pulse shape using a least-squares optimization algorithm, allowing an empirical analysis of the mechanism of scintillation inside the 4He detector. A further understanding of this mechanism in the 4He detector will advance the use of this system as a neutron spectrometer. For 252Cf neutrons, the triplet and singlet time constants were found to be 970 ns and 686 ns, respectively. For neutrons from the (d,d) generator, the time constants were found to be 884 ns and 636 ns. Differences were noted in the magnitude of these parameters compared to previously published data, however the general relationships were noted to be the same and checked with expected trends from theory. Of the excited helium states produced from a 252Cf neutron interaction, 76% were found to be born as triplet states, similar to the result from the neutron generator of 71%. The two sources yielded similar pulse shapes despite having very different neutron energy spectra, validating the robustness of the fits across various neutron energies.


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