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Proceedings Paper

Laboratory demonstration of IED detection using a high-flux neutron source (Conference Presentation)
Author(s): Robert O'Connell; Gabriel Becerra; Katie Rittenhouse
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Paper Abstract

Phoenix has demonstrated direct detection of buried explosive material by interrogation with an intense neutron source in a laboratory environment. The technique analyzes neutron-induced emission of characteristic gamma rays by each element, so it senses the explosive material itself. The high yield of the Phoenix neutron generator (up to 3x10^11 neutrons/second) represents a leap in detection times and standoff distances for neutron-based IED detection technology. Detection experiments ranged from standoff distances of up to 7 meters, which was the limit of the laboratory space. Simulants for nitrogen-based explosives were buried in sand of different moisture levels at depths of up to 28 cm (distance to top of explosive). The fast, high-resolution gamma-ray detector array is placed 50 cm above the suspect location. The method follows a concept of operations which assumes a selection of high-risk locations have been identified using ground-penetrating radar or satellite. The location is then scanned to determine the presence of explosives. The gamma radiation emitted due to the activation is analyzed to determine a presence of 10.8 MeV nitrogen gammas higher than background. The technique can also be used as a primary detection method. The measurements validate Monte Carlo modeling of neutron-based activation techniques. Example detection times: 1.4 seconds for 30-liter jug of TNT buried 8 cm in wet soil at a standoff of 5 m, or 37 seconds for 10-liter of TNT buried 30 cm in dry sand at a standoff of 10 m.

Paper Details

Date Published: 14 May 2018
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Proc. SPIE 10628, Detection and Sensing of Mines, Explosive Objects, and Obscured Targets XXIII, 1062807 (14 May 2018); doi: 10.1117/12.2305144
Show Author Affiliations
Robert O'Connell, Phoenix Nuclear Labs. (United States)
Gabriel Becerra, Phoenix Nuclear Labs. (United States)
Katie Rittenhouse, Phoenix Nuclear Labs. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 10628:
Detection and Sensing of Mines, Explosive Objects, and Obscured Targets XXIII
Steven S. Bishop; Jason C. Isaacs, Editor(s)

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