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CAEN

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ApplicationNoteAN2508 CAENDigitalPulseHeightAnalyseradigitalapproachto RadiationSpectroscopy

Viareggio 05September2011

Introduction
InrecentyearsCAENhasdevelopedacompletefamilyofdigitizersthatconsistsofseveralmodelsdifferinginsamplingfrequency, resolution, form factor and other features. Besides the use of the digitizers as waveform recorders (oscilloscope mode), CAEN offersthepossibility toupload specialversionsoftheFPGAfirmwarethatimplementalgorithmsfortheDigitalPulseProcessing (DPP);whenthedigitizerrunsinDPPmode,itbecomesanewinstrumentthatrepresentsacompletedigitalreplacementofmost traditionalmodulessuchasMultiChannelAnalyzers,QDCs,TDCs,Discriminatorsandmanyothers. In this application note, we describe the capability of the series x724 (14 bit, 100MSps) to perform Pulse Height Analysis in RadiationSpectroscopy.ThedevelopmentofthisFPGAfirmwarewasbasedupondigitaltrapezoidalfiltersappliedtothedigitized signalsoutputbyaChargeSensitivePreamplifier.

TraditionalAnalogApproach
ThetraditionalelectronicsforRadiationSpectroscopyrelyuponthreefundamentaldevices:theChargeSensitivePreamplifier,the ShapingAmplifierandthePeakSensingADC.
Charge Sensitive Preamplifier IN (Detector)

OUT

Fig.1:ChargeSensitivePreamplifierconvertsthearea of the input pulse (charge) to the amplitude of the output.

Usually [1] [2], the result of a particle interaction within the detectors sensitive volume is theexcitation of the absorber medium, e.g. scintillators, or the release of an observable burst of charge proportional to the energy lostbytheparticleintheinteraction,e.g.semiconductors.Insomecases,the valueofthischargeissufficienttobemanagedbythefrontendelectronics, but in many applications, typically where a semiconductor detector is required, a preamplification stage is mandatory. In order to minimize the noise, it is wise to amplify the signal as closest to the detector as possible, and sometimes to insert the very first stage of the preamplifier in the detectorsarchitecture,ashappensinHPGedetectors.

The Charge Sensitive Preamplifier (Fig. 1) integrates the signal coming from thedetector,thusconvertingthecollectedchargeintoavoltagestep.Ideally, it is just a simple capacitor; however, in order to avoid saturation, the integrating capacitor is put in parallel with a discharging resistor,sothatthepreamplifieroutputwillhavepulseswithafastrisetimeandalongexponentialtailwith decaytime.The chargeinformation(proportionaltotheenergyreleasedbytheparticleinthedetector)ishererepresentedbythepulseheight.
Q andthedecaytimeoftheoutputsignalis = RC . C

Thechargeamplitudeproportionalityissetbythecapacitorvalue Vout =

Inordertohaveagoodchargeamplitudeconversionandtominimizethenoise,thedecaytimeismuchlargerthanthewidthof thedetectorsignal,typically50100s,andforthisreasonpileupofdifferentparticledetectionscanarise(seeFig.2).

Detector

Charge Sensitive Preamplifier

Fig. 2: Pileup of detector signals due to the large decay time of the Preamplifieroutput.

AnotherissuewiththeoutputsignaloftheChargeSensitivePreamplifieristhatthepeakistoosharpforthePeakSensingADCto bedetectedwiththerequiredprecision. InordertoavoidtheseproblemsinatraditionalanalogacquisitionchainaShapingAmplifierisrequested.Thisamplifier(seeFig.3) receives the signal from the Preamplifier output and provides a quasiGaussian output whose width can be changed selecting differentshapingtime.Theheightisstillproportionaltotheenergyreleasedbythedetectedparticle.

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ApplicationNoteAN2508 CAENDigitalPulseHeightAnalyseradigitalapproachto RadiationSpectroscopy

RISE TIME

DECAY TIME

Preamplifier Shaping Amplifier


PEAK AMPLITUDE ~ ENERGY

Fig. 3: Shaping Amplifier converts the longtailed Preamplifier output in a quasi Gaussian signal preserving the proportionality between energyandpeakamplitude.

InthiswayitspossibletoreducethepileupandfeedthePeakSensingADCwithasmoothsignal. Finally,thePeakSensingADCiscapabletoevaluateanddigitizetheheightofthepulsesoutputbytheShapingAmplifier,fillinga histogramwiththesevalues,i.e.anenergyspectrum.

CAENDigitalApproach
CAENDigitalPulseHeightAnalyzerisaselfconsistentsystemcomposedbyadigitizer(alsoknowasFlashADC)ofthe724series (100MS/s,14bit)loadedwithDPPPHAfirmwareandmanagedbytheDPPPHAControlSoftware. InthissystemthedigitizerreplacesboththeShapingAmplifierandthePeakSensingADC;infact,thedigitizersamplesthepulses outputbytheChargeSensitivePreamplifierandconvertsthemintoacontinuousdatastream.Thepulseshapingisdoneindigital bymeansofatrapezoidalfilterrunningonlineonthedigitizerFPGA. Thetrapezoidalfilter[3],alsoknownasmovingwindowdeconvolution,canbeshortlydescribedasafilterabletotransformthe typicallongtailedexponentialsignalgeneratedbyaChargeSensitivePreamplifierintoatrapezoidwhoseheightisproportionalto theamplitudeoftheinputpulsethatistotheenergyreleasedbytheparticleinthedetector(Fig.4).Itisimportanttohighlight thatthistrapezoidfilterplaysmoreorlessthesameroleoftheShapingAmplifier inatraditionalanalogacquisitionsystem;for instance, both have a shaping time constant: setting the parameters of the trapezoidal filter is like operating on the potentiometersoftheShapingAmplifier. The control of the Analyzer is managed by DPPPHA Control Software, that allows the user to set the parameters for the acquisition,configurethehardwareandperformthedatareadout,thehistogramcollectionandthespectrumorwaveformplotting andsaving.Thehistogramssavedintheoutputfilescanbeeasilymanagedbythirdpartsoftwaretoolsforspectroscopyanalysis.

Fig. 4: Trapezoidal filter with therelevantparameters. OncetheDPPPHAhasperformedthetrapezoidalfiltering,theenergyofthedetectedparticlecanbecalculatedastheheightof thetrapezoidinrespecttoitsbaseline;thisvaluecanbefinallysavedtothedigitizermemory.Theoriginalrawdatacomingfrom theADC,i.e.thesamples,canbediscardedinordertominimizethedatathroughputfromtheboardtothecomputer,eventhough itmightbeuseful,insomecases,tosavealsoapieceofthewaveformforfurtheranalysisorformonitoringthesignals.Itisworth noticingthattheDPPPHAfirmwareisalsoabletocalculateandsavethetimestampoftheinputpulses.

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ApplicationNoteAN2508 CAENDigitalPulseHeightAnalyseradigitalapproachto RadiationSpectroscopy

Measurements
AlldetectorandgammasourcebasedtestswereperformedattheInstituteforNuclearScienceandTechnology(CEA,Saclay)in collaborationwithMr.GeorgesMeyerandMr.BernardRousse.ThedataanalysiswasperformedusingROOTandVisuGamma.

Setupdescription
The measurements shown in this Application Note were performed using an HPGe detector, mod. Ortec GEM10175P, whose preamplified output fed a CAEN DT5724 with DPPPHA firmware. This board is the 4 channel, Desktop version of 724 digitizer series;adynamicrangeof500mVppwasused.
137

Cs and 60Co sources were placed close to the detector according to the different measures; different counting rates were reachedmodifyingthedistancebetweensourceanddetector.

TrapezoidRiseTime&InputCountingRate
The first set of measures was performed in order to test the system capabilities, mainly Energy Resolution and Peak Shift, as a function of the Input Counting Rate and Trapezoid Rise Time. This parameter is the time needed by the trapezoid to reach its maximum, i.e. flat top, from the baseline. It plays the same role as the shaping time of a analog Shaping Amplifier: for a quick comparison,avalueofTrapezoidRiseTimeof1sisequivalentinperformancesto0.45sofanalogShapingTime. Asintheanalogcase,thisvalueshouldbegreaterthatthecollectiontimeofthedetector,butitcanbeincreasedwithoutrisingthe parallelnoisebeingtheresultofadigitalcomputation;inHPGedetectorsthevalueofthisparameterisusuallyintherangeof120s. InordertoanalyzehowthesystemsperformanceschangeasafunctionofInputCountingRateandTrapezoidRiseTime,the 137Cs energyspectrumwasacquiredsettingtheRiseTimeto1s,5sand9sforeachratevalue.Theratewasraisedupto100kcps. InFig.5theenergyspectrumcollectedwithRiseTime=9sandICR=1.1kcpsisshown;aresolutionof1.60keVwasobtainedfor the661.7keVphotopeak.
137

Cs
1800 1600 1400 1200 1000 800 600 400 200 0 0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 Energy [keV]
Counts
1800 1600 1400 1200 1000 800 600 400 200 0 658 660 662 664 666 668 Energy [keV]
2 / ndf Constant Mean Sigma

Counts

8.657 / 10 1766 23.1 661.5 0.0 0.6821 0.0056

Fig. 5: 137Cs spectrum obtained with Trapezoid Rise Time = 9s, ICR 1.1 kcps and Zoom of the661.7keVphotopeak.

InFig.6theenergyresolutionofthe661.7keVphotopeakasafunctionoftheICRisshownforeachvalueofRiseTime. Asexpected,thehigherthevalueofRiseTimethebettertheresolution.Nevertheless,risingtheICR,itismoreandmoreprobable thepulsepileup,soitispreferabletohaveshortershapedsignalsnottolooseresolutionsignificantlyandalsotoreducethepile uprejection.

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ApplicationNoteAN2508 CAENDigitalPulseHeightAnalyseradigitalapproachto RadiationSpectroscopy

Resolution vs ICR
4.50 4.00 3.50 3.00 2.50 2.00 1.50 1.00 0.50 0.00 1000 Resolution (keV) of 137Cs photopeak

RT 1us RT 5us RT 9us

10000 ICR (cps)

100000

Fig. 6: Resolution of the 661.7keV 137Csphotopeakasa function of the Input Counting Rate (ICR) for different values ofTrapezoidRiseTime(RT).

InFig.7itisshownthePeakshiftasafunctionoftheICRforeachvalueofRiseTime;evenat9sofRiseTimethereisnonotable shiftofthephotopeakupto30kcps.
Peak Shift vs. Count Rate (ICR)
0.06 Peak Shift (%) of 137Cs photopeak 0.05 0.04 0.03 0.02 0.01 0 -0.01 -0.02 1000 10000 ICR (cps) 100000 RT 1us RT 5us RT 9us

Fig. 7: Peak position of the 661.7keV 137Csphotopeakasa function of the Input Counting Rate (ICR) for different values ofTrapezoidRiseTime(RT).

BaselineRestorer
In order to correctly evaluate the trapezoid height it is important to carefully estimate its baseline. The baseline, in fact, can fluctuate for a number of reasons as microphone noise, grounding, power supply, etc. The Digital Pulse Height Analyzer can evaluatethebaselinelevelbymeansofamovingaveragewindowwhoselengthcanbeselectedbysoftware.Themaineffectofa notwellcompensatedbaselinefluctuationisclearlynoticeableinthepeakscollectedinanenergyspectrum;thebaseofthepeak islargerthanwhatwouldbeexpectedbyapureGaussianpeak,asshowninFig.8.
137

Cs

bsl 16 bsl 256 bsl 2048

Counts

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Fig.8: 137Csphotopeakcollectedchangingthe Baseline parameter. If the baseline fluctuations are not carefully compensated, the base of the peak is larger than the expected.Thehistogramsweredrawnwitha smoothed line in order to highlight their shape.

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ApplicationNoteAN2508 CAENDigitalPulseHeightAnalyseradigitalapproachto RadiationSpectroscopy

AdvancedSettings:PeakingHoldoff
To avoid the loss of energy resolution when the Input CountingRate increases,DPPPHA allows the user to introduce a Peaking Holdoff.Thisparameterinhibitstheheightanalysisofpulsescloserthanaprogrammabletimevalue. Inprinciple,twotrapezoidscanbeconsideredvalid,i.e.itispossibletocorrectlycalculatetheirheights,evenifthesecondpulse overlapsthefallingedgeofthefirstone.Anyway,becauseoftheoverlap,theheightofthesecondtrapezoidisevaluatedinrespect tothebaselinevaluecalculatedbeforethefirstone.Thismeansthatthebaselinecouldhavebeenchangedinthemeanwhileand therefore a loss of energy resolution can be introduced. Peaking Holdoff can be used in order to store the heights of only well separatedpulses,ensuringaprecisebaselinecalculationforeachtrapezoid. Ofcourse,thedrawbackofthis techniqueistoincreasethepulserejection:thisparametersetstheminimumseparationofthe trapezoidsbeforetheyareconsideredpiledup.InordertoevaluatetheeffectivenessofthePeakingHoldoff,severalspectraofthe 137 Cssourcewereacquired,changingtheholdoffwidth.TheresultsareshowninFig.9,Fig.10andFig.11. Itcanbenoticedthattheareaofthehistograms,i.e.totalcounts,decreasesforhighervaluesofPeakingHoldoffbecauseofthe pulserejection.
137

Cs
104
PKHO 10 us PKHO 5 us PKHO 3 us PKHO 1.2 us

Counts

103

PKHO 0.4 us

102

10

1 0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200 1400 Energy [keV]

Fig. 9: 137Cs spectra acquired with different Peaking Holdoff values. The measurements wereperformedwithRiseTime set to 1 s. The ICR was about 110kcps.

137

Cs
PKHO 10 us

Counts

104

PKHO 5 us PKHO 3 us PKHO 1.2 us PKHO 0.4 us

103

102

620

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720 Energy [keV]

Fig. 10: Zoom of the 661.7 keV photopeak ofFig. 9.The effect ofthePeakingHoldoffistolet a precise evaluation of the trapezoidsbaseline.

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ApplicationNoteAN2508 CAENDigitalPulseHeightAnalyseradigitalapproachto RadiationSpectroscopy

Resolution vs Peaking Holdoff


Resolution (keV) of 137Cs photopeak 2.80 2.75 2.70 2.65 2.60 2.55 2.50 2.45 0 2 4 6 8 10 Peaking Holdoff (us)

Fig. 11: Resolution of the 661.7keV 137Csphotopeakasa function of the Peaking Holdoff.

DeadTime&PileupRejection
UnliketheanaloguePeakSensingADCs,CAENPulseHeightAnalyzerisnotaffectedbyconversiontime,beingbasedonFlashADCs. ThismeansthattheADCshousedbytheboarddigitizecontinuouslytheanalogueinputsmakingthesamplesalwaysavailableto theDPPPHAalgorithmrunningontheFPGA. Anyway,thesystemcouldbeunabletocorrectlyevaluatetheheightofsomepulsesforthreereasons: deadtimeduetosaturationoftheinputstage(ADCoverrange) deadtimeduetofullmemoriesinthedigitizer piledupevents

Concerningthefirsttwopoints,boththesituationsarerelatedtoaveryhighICR,oftheorderofseveralMcps.Infact,beingCAEN Pulse Height Analyzer a conversion timeless system, the only sources of dead time, i.e. inability of the system to manage the analogueinputsandtoanalyzethedetectorspulses,arethesaturationoftheinputdynamicrange,duetoanhigheventpileup, and the inability of the readout link to sustain the data throughput from the memories that contain the energy values to the computer.IftheICRisnotsohigh,thesystemisneverdeadtothedetectorspulses,butconverselyitisalwayscapabletoanalyze thedigitizedsignals:thesystemisnotaffectedbydeadtime,astraditionallydefined. However,evenatlowerrates,theprobabilitytohavepiledupeventsishighenoughtocausetherejectionofasignificantnumber of events. In fact, pulses really close to each other produce an overlap of the related trapezoids. In this situation, the system is unable to disentangle the heights of the piledup pulses so, in order to not lose energy resolution and create false peaks in the spectra,itrejectstheseeventsasshowninFig.12.

Fig.12: Theeffectoftrapezoidsoverlappinginthreemaincases:1)Thesecondtrapezoidstartsonthefallingedgeofthefirst one.2)Thesecondtrapezoidstartsontherisingedge(T<peakingtime)ofthefirstone.3)Thesecondtrapezoidstartsonthe risingedgeofthefirstone(T<inputrisetime).

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ApplicationNoteAN2508 CAENDigitalPulseHeightAnalyseradigitalapproachto RadiationSpectroscopy

In this case, in addition to an effective capability to recognize and reject the piledup events, it is necessary to know how many pulses have been rejected in order to precisely estimate the Input Counting Rate that is related to the activity of the radiation sourceandthereforecorrecttheenergyspectra. CAENPulseHeightAnalyzerisablebothtorecognizewithhighefficiencythepileduppulsesandtocounthowmayofthemhave beenrejected;thiscapabilityisensuredbythedigitalimplementationofafastTriggerandTimingFilter. The aim of the Trigger and Timing Filter (TTF) is to identify the input pulses, generate a trigger on them and calculate the time stampbymeansofakindofConstantFractionDiscriminator.Tomakeananalogywithananalogsystem,theTTFislikeaRCCR2 filter:theintegrativecomponentisasmoothingfilterbasedonamovingwindowaveragingfilterthatreducesthehighfrequency noiseandpreventthetriggerlogictogeneratefalsetriggersonspikesorfastfluctuationofthesignals. Ontheotherhand,thepurposeofthederivativecomponentistosubtractthebaseline,sothatthetriggerthresholdisnotaffected bythelowfrequencyfluctuationand,moreimportant,bythepileup.Asaresultofthedoublederivation(CR2),theoutputsignal oftheTTFisbipolarandthezerocrossingisindependentofthepulseamplitude.ThisisthesameprincipleoftheCFD.Thetrigger logicusesthethresholdtogetarmed,thenwaitsforthezerocrossingtogeneratethetriggersignalandproduceatimestamp.

Fig.13:TheTriggerandTiming Filterisusedbythechannelsto autotriggerontheinputpulses. In Fig. 14, the Output Counting Rate, that is the rate of the pulses whose height was evaluated by the system (i.e. not piledup pulses),versustheInputCountingRateisshown.Asexpected,thelongeristheRiseTimethesoonerthemaximumOCRisreached; anyway,anICRupto10kcpscanbeanalyzedwithnosignificanteventrejectionevenwith9sofTrapezoidRiseTime.
OCR vs ICR
100000

OCR (cps)

10000

RT 1us RT 5us RT 9us

1000

100 1000

10000 ICR (cps)

100000

Fig. 14: Output Counting Rate vs Input Counting Rate for different values of Trapezoid RiseTime.

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ApplicationNoteAN2508 CAENDigitalPulseHeightAnalyseradigitalapproachto RadiationSpectroscopy

RiseTimeDiscriminator
WhentheInputCountingRateisveryhigh,theprobabilitytoobservetwopulsesoutputbythepreamplifierpiledupontheirrising edgeisnotnegligible.Inthissituation,theusualpileuprejectionmethodsareineffective,sincethepileupoccursbeforethefirst pulsereachesitsmaximum:thetwopulsesarenotrejected,producingfalsepeaksinthespectrum,asshowninFig.12. Anyway,ifthetwopulsesarenotexactlysimultaneous,thereisthepossibilitytorejecttheundesiredeventsbyanalysingtherise timeofthepiledupsignal:CAENDPPPHAcanrejectthepulseswhoserisetimeexceedasettablevalue. InFig.15twomeasuresobtainedwithanICRof110kcpsareshown.InthefirstmeasuretheRiseTimeDiscriminatorwasdisabled, leadingtothecreationofapileuppeakwhoseenergyistwicethe661.7keVenergyof 137Csgammaray.Inthesecondmeasure, theRTDwadenabled;asaresult,thepileupeventsarestronglysuppressed.
137

Cs
104

No RTD With RTD

Counts

103

102

10

1 0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200 1400 Energy [keV]

Fig. 15: 137Cs spectra with ICR 110 kcps. The black spectrum was collected without Rise Time Discriminator, the red one was obtained using RTD. The measurements was performed with Trapezoid Rise Timesetto1s.

ThevalueofRTDmustbecarefullysetinordernottorejectgoodpulses.Infact,especiallyinlargedetectors,itmayhappenthat notpiledupsignalsshowarisetimelongerrespecttotheusualones,dependingontheinteractionpointwithinthedetector.

UnsteadySources&LiveSpectrumCorrection
Thankstothehighefficiencyintheinputpulsecounting,CAENdigitalPulseHeightAnalyzerisabletomanagealivecorrectionof theenergyspectruminrespecttothepiledupevents.Thisisveryimportantwheneveranunsteadyradiationsourcedisused,e.g. shortlivingisotopesoractivitytransients. Inthesesituations,itisnotpossibletocompensatethelostcountssimplyextendingtheacquisitiontime,becauseinthiswaythe correctionisappliedonlytothesourcestillactiveintheadditionaltime.Whatitisdoneinmanytraditionalsystemsistocorrect thespectrumonlyattheendoftheacquisitionrun,redistributingthelostcountsinrespecttothecollectedhistogram;thismay leadtocorrectionerrors,sincethismethoddoesnottakeintoaccounttheICRvariationsduringthedataacquisition. AsaproofofCAENPulseHeightAnalyzercapabilitiestolivecorrecttheenergyspectra,ameasurementwasperformedacquiringa midcounting(10kcps) 60Cosourcefor3minutes.Duringthisacquisition,anhighcounting(100kcps) 137Cssourcewasaddedfor just10seconds.Inthissituation,theadditionofthe 137CssourceproducedasuddentransientintheICR,increasingthereforethe piledup events. Because of the higher activity of the 137Cs source, it is more probable that the piledup pulses involved 137Cs photonsthan60Coones,sothecorrectionshouldbemorefocusedontheformersourcethanthelatter.Ifatraditionalcorrectionis applied,thesimpleredistributionofthelostcountsattheendoftheacquisitionwouldcompensatethelostcountsinrespectto thefinalspectrumshapethatis,ofcourse,relatednotonlytotheactivitybutalsotothecollectiontime.

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137

ApplicationNoteAN2508 CAENDigitalPulseHeightAnalyseradigitalapproachto RadiationSpectroscopy

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60 Fig.16(a):Energyspectrumacquiringamidcounting(10kcpsICR) Cosourcefor3minutesandaddinganhighcounting(100 kcps)137Cssourcefor10seconds.Theredhistogramistheuncorrectedspectrum,theblueoneisthespectrumcorrectedatthe endoftherunandtheblackoneisthelivecorrectedspectrum.ThemeasurementwasperformedwithTrapezoidRiseTimeset to1sandRTDenabled. (b):Zoomofthe 137Csphotopeak.(c)(d):Zoomofthe60Cophotopeaks.Ascanbenoticed,thetraditionalcorrectionperformed attheendoftherundoesnottakeinaccounttheInputCountingRatevariationduringthemeasurement,redistributingthelost countsinrespecttotheintegralsofthe 137Csand 60Cospectra.Thisleadstoanundercompensationofthe 137Csphotopeakand anovercompensationofthe60Coones.

CAEN
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ApplicationNoteAN2508 CAENDigitalPulseHeightAnalyseradigitalapproachto RadiationSpectroscopy

References
[1] [2] [3] G.Knoll,RadiationDetectionandMeasurementJohnWiley&Sons,4thEdition. W.R.Leo,TechniquesforNuclearandParticlePhysicsExperiments:AHowtoApproachSpringerVerlag,2ndRevisedEdition. V. Jordanov, G. Knoll, Digital synthesis of pulse shapes in real time for high resolution radiation spectroscopy Nuclear Instruments and MethodsinPhysicsResearchA345(2):337345.

ApplicationNoteAN2508CAENDigitalPulseHeightAnalyser adigitalapproachtoRadiationSpectroscopy rev.0 05September2011 0011710DGT22ANXX CopyrightCAENSpA.Allrightsreserved.Informationinthispublicationsupersedesallearlierversions.Specificationssubjecttochangewithoutnotice.

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