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We present a general methodology to determine the diagnostic sensitivity that is directly applicable to neutron-activation diagnostics fielded on a wide variety of neutron-producing experiments, which include inertial-confinement fusion (ICF), dense plasma focus, and ion beam-driven concepts. This approach includes a combination of several effects: (1) non-isotropic neutron emission; (2) the 1/ 2 decrease in neutron fluence in the activation material; (3) the spatially distributed neutron scattering, attenuation, and energy losses due to the fielding environment and activation material itself; and (4) temporally varying neutron emission. As an example, we describe the copper-activation diagnostic used to measure secondary deuterium-tritium fusion-neutron yields on ICF experiments conducted on the pulsed-power Z Accelerator at Sandia National Laboratories. Using this methodology along with results from absolute calibrations and Monte Carlo simulations, we find that for the diagnostic configuration on Z, the diagnostic sensitivity is 0.037% ± 17% counts/neutron per cm2 and is ∼ 40% less sensitive than it would be in an ideal geometry due to neutron attenuation, scattering, and energy-loss effects.


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