Photofission with Linearly Polarized Photons

Dr. Dan Dale
Department of Physics
Idaho State University

Nuclear safeguards and homeland security considerations have brought about a renewed interest in the photonuclear physics of actinides in the 5 – 30 MeV excitation energy range where gamma rays induce nuclear fission. In this talk, I will review the systematics of the fission process, and describe a proposed new signature for photofission which is currently under development here at Idaho State University. This signature seeks to exploit the angular distribution of neutrons coming from photofission events where the incident photons are linearly polarized. I will describe how we plan to make polarized photons via the off axis bremsstrahlung technique, and how such a facility might be employed for safeguards and homeland security applications. As we will see, the potential for practical application of this technique hinges upon some interesting fundamental physics of the fission process, which is not yet known.