Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Will You Be "Mine"? Physics Key To Detection

Date:
November 9, 2000
Source:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Summary:
Creating a technology that can quickly and easily detect landmines can be as daunting a challenge as removing the deadly weapons. But a promising detector being built at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory promises to do just that, with the help of physics.

RICHLAND, Wash. - Creating a technology that can quickly and easily detect landmines can be as daunting a challenge as removing the deadly weapons. But a promising detector being built at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory promises to do just that, with the help of physics.

Related Articles


PNNL has called on 40-plus combined years of experience in radiation detection and arms control treaty verification to develop an affordable, easy-to-use method to detect landmines. Called the Timed Neutron Detector, the prototype offers benefits not available from many of today’s existing detection technologies - low price, quick assessment, ease of use and, most importantly, the ability to detect mines containing little or no metal. The system can scan a 100-square-foot area - about the size of a child’s bedroom - at a walking pace. Also, the system is portable and lightweight, which makes it more appealing for scanning large areas.

“If a detection system is easy to use and affordable, there’s a greater chance Third World countries will use it,” said Richard Craig, PNNL principal investigator. “We have focused on building a system that meets the requirements of those countries, because they have the greatest need for clearing mines.”

The laboratory field-tested the system in September and is pursuing further development. Craig will make a presentation on the Timed Neutron Detector Nov. 14 as part of the international meeting of the American Nuclear Society and the European Nuclear Society in Washington, D.C.

The United Nations’ Landmine Database estimates that at present rates it would take 1,100 years to clear the world’s existing inventory of 110 million landmines hidden in soils of nearly 70 countries.

The Timed Neutron Detector appears similar to a metal detector yet applies physics to discover signs indicative of a landmine’s presence. Specifically, the system detects hydrogen, which is present in casings and explosives found in plastic or metal landmines, and its interactions with neutrons.

The PNNL-developed system consists of a neutron source - about the size of a personal pager - and a detector built into one system that a person sweeps over the ground, much like a metal detector.

PNNL physicists designed the neutron source to hold a small amount of californium-252. During californium-252’s natural decay, the fission events produce three or four neutrons. Electronics built into the neutron source record the time fission occurred. This process, called time tagging, allows the system to differentiate between neutrons that have interacted with hydrogen in landmines and those that are simply scattered from the soil.

This fission reaction shoots the neutrons out of the source thousands of times faster than a bullet exits a rifle and many of them go into the soil. If the neutrons encounter a buried landmine - plastic or metal - they will interact with any hydrogen found in the casing or explosive material. During this interaction, hydrogen removes part of the neutron’s energy and reflects those neutrons - now called slow neutrons because they don’t have as much energy - back toward the handheld system.

The slow neutrons return to the detector. Once inside, nonradioactive helium-3 stored in low-pressure pipes collects a neutron then emits an electron. A tube with high-voltage wire collects those electrons and translates them into a simple determination of whether a landmine exists.

PNNL physicists chose to target hydrogen because it removes more energy from neutrons than other elements, making the change in energy of neutrons easier to identify. Also, hydrogen is a common element in both metal and plastic mines. A person operating the Timed Neutron Detector for one day would be exposed to about the same radiation received during a dental x-ray or a cross-country airplane flight.

Business inquiries about this research or other PNNL technologies should be directed to 1-888-375-PNNL or e-mail: inquiry@pnl.gov.

PNNL is one of DOE’s nine multiprogram national laboratories and conducts research in the fields of environment, energy, health sciences and national security. Battelle, based in Columbus, Ohio, has operated PNNL for DOE since 1965.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. "Will You Be "Mine"? Physics Key To Detection." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 November 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/10/001026143932.htm>.
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. (2000, November 9). Will You Be "Mine"? Physics Key To Detection. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 6, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/10/001026143932.htm
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. "Will You Be "Mine"? Physics Key To Detection." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/10/001026143932.htm (accessed March 6, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Friday, March 6, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Driverless Budii Gives the Wheel Feel

Driverless Budii Gives the Wheel Feel

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 6, 2015) The Rinspeed Budii Concept car is creating a driverless stir at this year&apos;s Geneva car show. It&apos;s an all-electric autonomous vehicle with a difference. Ciara Lee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Star Wars Inspires Mobile Holograms

Star Wars Inspires Mobile Holograms

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 6, 2015) 3D holograms could soon be coming to your mobile phone. Inspired by the famous Princess Leia hologram from Star Wars, a U.S. company is showcasing a prototype display at the Mobile World Congress at Barcelona and says it could be used for real-time video calls. Ivor Bennett reports Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Game Makers Lured Into Virtual Worlds

Game Makers Lured Into Virtual Worlds

AFP (Mar. 6, 2015) Some 25,000 people have descended upon San Francisco to show off the latest technologies and video games at the Game Developers Conference. Developers here discuss the future of the industry. Duration: 02:20. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Gas Production Cut on Earthquake Fears

Gas Production Cut on Earthquake Fears

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 5, 2015) The Dutch government has cut production at Europe&apos;s largest gas field in Groningen amid concerns over earthquakes which are damaging local churches. As Amy Pollock reports the decision - largely politically-motivated - could have big economic conseqeunces. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins