skip to main content

DOE PAGESDOE PAGES

Title: Uncovering Special Nuclear Materials by Low-energy Nuclear Reaction Imaging

Weapons-grade uranium and plutonium could be used as nuclear explosives with extreme destructive potential. The problem of their detection, especially in standard cargo containers during transit, has been described as “searching for a needle in a haystack” because of the inherently low rate of spontaneous emission of characteristic penetrating radiation and the ease of its shielding. Currently, the only practical approach for uncovering well-shielded special nuclear materials is by use of active interrogation using an external radiation source. However, the similarity of these materials to shielding and the required radiation doses that may exceed regulatory limits prevent this method from being widely used in practice. We introduce a low-dose active detection technique, referred to as low-energy nuclear reaction imaging, which exploits the physics of interactions of multi-MeV monoenergetic photons and neutrons to simultaneously measure the material’s areal density and effective atomic number, while confirming the presence of fissionable materials by observing the beta-delayed neutron emission. For the first time, we demonstrate identification and imaging of uranium with this novel technique using a simple yet robust source, setting the stage for its wide adoption in security applications.
Authors:
 [1] ;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [2] ;  [2]
  1. Georgia Inst. of Technology, Atlanta, GA (United States). G.W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, Nuclear and Radiological Engineering Program
  2. Pennsylvania State Univ., University Park, PA (United States). Dept. of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
1258575
Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Scientific Reports
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 6; Journal ID: ISSN 2045-2322
Publisher:
Nature Publishing Group
Research Org:
National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), Washington, DC (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
46 INSTRUMENTATION RELATED TO NUCLEAR SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY