Label-free timing analysis of modularized nuclear detectors with physics-constrained deep learning

by   Pengcheng Ai, et al.

Pulse timing is an important topic in nuclear instrumentation, with far-reaching applications from high energy physics to radiation imaging. While high-speed analog-to-digital converters become more and more developed and accessible, their potential uses and merits in nuclear detector signal processing are still uncertain, partially due to associated timing algorithms which are not fully understood and utilized. In this paper, we propose a novel method based on deep learning for timing analysis of modularized nuclear detectors without explicit needs of labelling event data. By taking advantage of the inner time correlation of individual detectors, a label-free loss function with a specially designed regularizer is formed to supervise the training of neural networks towards a meaningful and accurate mapping function. We mathematically demonstrate the existence of the optimal function desired by the method, and give a systematic algorithm for training and calibration of the model. The proposed method is validated on two experimental datasets. In the toy experiment, the neural network model achieves the single-channel time resolution of 8.8 ps and exhibits robustness against concept drift in the dataset. In the electromagnetic calorimeter experiment, several neural network models (FC, CNN and LSTM) are tested to show their conformance to the underlying physical constraint and to judge their performance against traditional methods. In total, the proposed method works well in either ideal or noisy experimental condition and recovers the time information from waveform samples successfully and precisely.


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