Monte Carlo codes intercomparison exercise
ICRM Gamma-Ray Spectrometry Working Group In gamma-ray spectrometry, detector efficiency calibration represents a subject of considerable interest and importance, since it is always required for the analysis of a sample unless a standard with exactly the same characteristics is available. Monte Carlo simulations can be of significant help in the process of efficiency determination and their use has been gaining in popularity over the years. Sophisticated codes are available nowadays, which incorporate accurate simulation of diverse interaction mechanisms of photons and electrons with matter and advanced ways of tracking the particles through the model of the measurement setup. Their applicability to and usefulness for the field of gamma-ray spectrometry has been firmly established, but a study of the intrinsic differences they possess has not been conducted yet. The differences between the packages and their modes of operation, namely, give rise to differences in the computed efficiencies even if exactly the same sample-detector model is fed to them. These differences can be treated as intrinsic uncertainties of the Monte Carlo approach in gamma-ray spectrometry and they appear due to different approaches to particle tracking and the nuclear and material data used for it in individual packages. It is the aim of this exercise to assess these uncertainties and as such the exercise should not involve any reference to the experimental data. Instead, it should simply confront the codes one with another, as they are applied to the calculation of full energy peak and total efficiencies for a precisely defined and very schematic model of an HPGe detector and the sample. Due to the absence of reference experimental data, the codes will thus only be tested for their mutual compatibility and not for their absolute performance. The results of the exercise should provide useful information for future intercomparison exercises involving the application of Monte Carlo codes to efficiency transfer and coincidence summing correction calculations and general guidelines for the intrinsic uncertainty that may be assigned to such results.
The three sample-detector geometries we propose to simulate are described and sketched below. In all of them, complete cylindrical symmetry of the sample-detector arrangement and geometry is presumed. The first one encompasses a bare germanium crystal only and a point source located above it. In the second geometry the source remains the same, but the most important parts of a real detector have been added to the detector model. The third geometry is geared towards testing the possible differences in the treatment of the sample, as the point source is replaced by a solution, with the detector model remaining the same as in the previous (second) case. Each geometry thus build on the previous one, making it possible to hopefully reduce the overall time needed for setting them up. The third geometry has the sample density of 3.0, by means of which we would like to verify proper self-absorption correction calculation by the codes in relatively demanding conditions. The energies for which the efficiencies are to be calculated have been selected from the point of view of the general characteristics of the efficiency curve in gamma-ray spectrometry, rather from the point of view of pure interaction of gamma rays with matter. That is to say, since the efficiency curve bends at around 120 keV in the log-log scale for p-type detectors, we decided to make the energy grid denser around this value and sparser at higher energies where the curve is known to follow an approximately straight line. The lowest energy of 45 keV was added to the list since it is of interest for Pb-210 activity determination in environmental samples.
The participants are asked to calculate the full-energy-peak and total efficiencies for a series of energies for each of the geometries and report the results and their uncertainties in the attached Excel sheets. The relative statistical uncertainties of all the results should be kept at 0.1%. Information on the Monte Carlo codes used and their mode of operation should be given in the attached Microsoft Word form. Please use a separate form for every code or mode of operation that you intend to use.
We sincerely hope that the effort required for carrying out the calculation will not be prohibitive. If you find the time to carry out the calculations with more than one code, you are especially welcome to do so. It is, namely, our belief that the differences in the actual mode d’emploi of a given code between different groups are just as important as the differences between the codes themselves.
Geometry #1. This geometry consists of a bare germanium crystal (60x60 mm, density 5.323 g/cm3) and a point source located 10 mm above the crystal and on its symmetry axis. The space around the crystal (in which the point source is located) is free of any substance (vacuum). All dimensions are given in millimetres. The drawing is not to scale.
Geometry #2. The germanium crystal has the same dimensions and density as in geometry #1 (60x60 mm, 5.323 g/cm3) and has a 1 mm top dead layer and 1 mm side dead layer. A central hole of 40mm in length and 10 mm in diameter is drilled into the back side of the crystal. The crystal is encased in aluminium housing (density 2.7 g/cm3) with a thickness of 1 mm and the dimensions of 70x70 mm. The distance between the crystal and the housing is 4 mm on all sides. The distance between the housing and the point source located above it is 5 mm. The overall distance of the point source to the germanium crystal is thus the same as in geometry #1 (10 mm). The space around the housing (in which the point source is located), the space between the crystal and the housing and the interior of the central hole are all free of any substance (vacuum). All dimensions are given in millimetres. The drawing is not to scale.
Geometry #3. This geometry is exactly the same as geometry #2, except that the point source is replaced by an extended source in the form of a water cylinder with an artificial density of 3.0 g/cm3, a diameter of 90 mm and a thickness of 40 mm. The distance between the extended source and the detector housing is 5 mm and the space between the two is free of any substance (vacuum). Please note that the extended source has no container. All dimensions are given in millimetres. The drawing is not to scale.