The possible application of cyclotron-produced fast neutrons to activation analysis for oxygen based on the16O(n, p)16N reaction has been investigated. Neutrons were produced by bombarding a thick beryllium target with 22 to 45 MeV deuterons.
It was found that the sensitivity increases rapidly with the energy of the deuterons. Using 45 MeV deuterons and a 10 μA beam
current a sensitivity of about 20 counts per 1 μg oxigen could be achieved, enabling the determination of less than 1 μg oxigen.
In a direct comparison it was experimentally established that the sensitivity for cyclotron-produced neutrons assuming a deuteron
beam of about 10 μA, is up to two orders of magnitude higher than that achievable for 14 MeV neutrons with a flux of about
1010 n/s. The interference of fluorine is at about the same level for both the cyclotron-produced and 14 MeV neutrons. Using cyclotron-produced
fast neutrons in the investigated energy range, sodium and magnesium can also interfere, but only to a very much lower extent.