Monte Carlo Simulation of Nuclear Physics

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Rob Tayloe
Posts: 92
Joined: 10 Nov 2020, 12:00

Monte Carlo Simulation of Nuclear Physics

Post by Rob Tayloe » 12 Aug 2023, 05:37

At some time in the past there was an interest in performing monte carlo simulations on nuclear physics. Such simulations can be useful in the design of radiation shielding, examining the performance of radiation detectors, and understanding how fissile and other nuclear systems might operate. These programs simulate particle behavior through the use of a large number of random numbers whose distribution functions are controlled by physics such as interaction probabilities (referred to as cross-sections) and system geometry.

In the US, a program from the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) called MCNP (for monte carlo neutral particle) is quite widely used. The distribution of MCNP (outside of LANL) is through the Radiation Safety Information Computational Center (RSICC) at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). If one is associated with a US university nuclear program or certain nuclear programs outside of universities the software is free. For others there is a fee and for everyone there is a licensing process.

Folks at the European Nuclear Research Center (CERN) have developed a monte carlo nuclear simulation program called GEANT4. I believe that GEANT4 can be freely downloaded and used.

I have not used GEANT4. I did cover use of MCNP for radiation shielding when I taught graduate nuclear engineering courses at the Ohio State University. We spent a number of weeks covering the theory and basic operation of the MCNP code and made some calculations of theoretical and real (meaning experimental) conditions. Following is a link to an unclassified, open-source report discussing a past activity in which I was involved where MCNP was used to determine the response function for a neutron detector.

There is a fairly large amount of material that one must know in order to effectively use these programs. There are YouTube videos that purport to cover monte carlo nuclear simulations, MCNP, and GEANT4. I have not watched all of these videos. I have begun watching some of them. Links are provided below.

Series on monte carlo nuclear simulations - ... DkpQLpOtlb

Series on MCNP - ... Up&index=1

Series on GEANT4 ... 9vqg4KXeVL

Rob Tayloe
Posts: 92
Joined: 10 Nov 2020, 12:00

Re: Monte Carlo Simulation of Nuclear Physics

Post by Rob Tayloe » 26 Aug 2023, 01:21

If one wishes to perform monte-carlo or other radiation transport calculations it is very useful to be able to access appropriate data on compositions and mixtures for materials (including radiation detectors). Links are provided for compendium documents and calculators - ... modeling-1

May 14, 2021
Compendium of Material Composition Data for Radiation Transport Modeling

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In 2011, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) produced a document known as the Materials Compendium, or Compendium of Material Composition Data for Radiation Transport Modeling, PNNL 15870, Rev. 1, that contains material information useable for modeling purposes for properties of 372 materials. This information is used in several modeling programs used by the radiological/nuclear community, though it is primarily tailored for the Monte-Carlo-N-Particle code produced by Los Alamos National Laboratory. This new document Revision 2 includes a complete review and update of all materials data and references, addressing discrepancies and changes in materials data or references that have occurred since the first revision, an additional 40 materials have been added, primarily newer detector materials developed since the last revision, and isotopic specificity.
Detwiler R.S., R.J. McConn, T.F. Grimes, S.A. Upton, and E.J. Engel. 2021.
Compendium of Material Composition Data for Radiation Transport Modeling
Richland, WA: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

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Location: Colorado, USA

Monte Carlo for calculating gamma spectrometer internal efficiency, and data for a 2"x2" NaI:Tl detector

Post by ColoRad-o » 31 Oct 2023, 10:43

Hi Rob! I'm sorry to have overlooked your postings on Monte Carlo for so many months.

I had thought about using MCNP, or even Geant4 in order to predict, from the detailed geometry and properties of a simple NaI:Tl scintillator/PMT detector (like the one Steven sells here), the actual gamma ray detection efficiency. This is at least partly because I don't want to pay for well-calibrated gamma sources. I found the hoops one needs to jump through--even for a retired academic--to get MCNP access to be daunting and annoying. FLUKA/FLAIR looked promising as well two years ago when I last checked.. InterSpec provides *support* for several ways to parametrize internal efficiency, FYI.

Meanwhile, I stumbled on what appeared to be more-or-less what I needed (to the extent that any 2"x2" NaI:Tl detector with PMT is similar). Is published in the article
Development and calibration of a real-time airborne radioactivity monitor using gamma-ray spectrometry on a particulate filter, R. Casanovas, J. J. Morant, M. Salvadó, IEEE Transactions on Nuclear Science, January 2014. Let me know if you want a CSV file of their data points, digitized from their figure.

Best wishes--DMW
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D. M. Wood, retired physics professor
Arvada, Colorado (USA)
SAFECAST member (bGeigie Nano)

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