Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering


Department of Engineering Physics

First Advisor

Juan J. Manfredi, PhD


This document presents an investigation of the effect of deuterated polyethylene accelerator targets on the neutron fluence from a local mass injection dense plasma focus driven by the United States Naval Research Laboratory’s Hawk pulsed-power generator. After successful production of thin targets, the acquisition of thicker targets, and testing inside Hawk, it was found that the presence of a deuterated polyethylene target increased the neutron fluence. Results suggested that fluence can significantly increase with the presence of a deuterated target vs a nondeuterated target. Additive manufacturing printing was used as a production method in order to determine if deuterated accelerator targets can be 3D printed and if yield is significantly different from the traditional method of thin-film casting. Specifically, photopolymerization-based 3D printing was performed, and it successfully produced both deuterated and nondeuterated polymer targets in disc and cone geometries. Results were inconclusive with regard to the relationship between deuterated 3D printed targets and increased neutron production, but diagnostic analysis revealed correlations between increased chamber voltage, plastic scintillator photomultiplier tube voltage, power delivered at time of pinch, and sodium iodide scintillator counts with increased neutron production. The targets showed impressive durability and the potential for reusability. However, the deuteration of the targets proved to be insufficient to overcome the inherent uncertainty of the bubble detectors and the bubble counting software. Increasing the deuterium atom fraction of the deuterated compound along with increasing the mass fraction of the deuterated compound within the mixed printing material are the hypothesized primary methods by which the deuteration-neutron fluence relationship may be more effectively investigated in future works.

AFIT Designator



PA cleared, 88ABW-2023-0335.