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Redwood City, CA, United States

Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Army | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 730.00K | Year: 2007

A detection system will be fabricated, and tested to demonstrate the detection of vehicle-borne or buried explosives at distances greater of 1 meter or more. The system is comprised of a high-intensity fast-neutron source and an array of gamma-ray detectors that are material specific. The fast neutrons cause the target to emit unique gamma rays that are characteristic of its atomic elements. Three detectors are each doped with carbon, nitrogen, or oxygen, and are designed to produce total outputs that increase with the amount of their respective element in the target. The quantities and ratios of these detected elements can determine the presence of explosive devices. Additional detectors doped with other elements could also be used in the system for the detection of chemical warfare agents and exotic explosives. The research will proceed by the continuing the testing and refinement of prototype detectors built during the Phase I SBIR. A high intensity neutron generator will then be modified to operate at higher neutron energies and used with a complete detector array to detect explosives. A prototype system will be tested at a US Army installation and will serve as the basis for a commercial system.

Agency: National Science Foundation | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 500.00K | Year: 2007

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase II research project will develop a fast-neutron imaging detector capable of high resolution and efficiency. Traditionally, fast neutron detection has required a thick, low resolution scintillator material. The proposed research will instead use light-channeling micro-capillaries filled with liquid scintillants. The capillary diameter and length that will yield optimal resolution and efficiency will be determined using a state-of-the-art image-intensified CCD camera capable of creating short time-interval images, in which noise can be identified and filtered out. The detector system will be tested using a new, revolutionary fast neutron source that is being fabricated and sold by the company. Because fast neutrons are highly penetrating, they have the possibility of imaging and interrogating large, high-density objects. The new high-resolution fast-neutron detector will be used with a high-brightness fast neutron source being developed under another program to form a fast-neutron radiographic system. This system will serve the nondestructive testing interests of commercial and military aircraft, public utilities and petrochemical organizations. The detector and generator combinations will increase the safety, reliability and efficiency of nuclear and other power plant facilities. The discovery of fatigue cracks and piping integrity without the removal of insulation, and possibly the detection of aging in polymeric cabling materials will be possible. The imaging system will be portable, permitting imaging inside of thick steel, lead or even uranium for voids, corrosion and cracks. The proposed detector and neutron generator has a large market for screening for contraband, weapons, and explosives.

Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 100.00K | Year: 2008

A short-pulsed neutron generator is proposed for the detection of concealed high explosives. A recently developed RF-excited plasma neutron generator will be pulsed to produce the activating neutrons whose pulse length is 5-10 ns with a repetition rate of 100 kHz. Using the D-T nuclear reaction, we expect the proposed generator to produce an average yield of 10E9 n/s at this pulse length and rate. In Phase I an existing neutron generator will have a set of electrodes installed to chop the ion beam to produce the desired neutron-pulse time structure and a high peak yield. The present deuterium generator will be redesigned to support the safe use of tritium. The proposed system will be designed to be low cost, transportable, and mechanically and electronically robust, to ensure its wide useage. Unlike penning diode sources, the generator is expected to have a long lifetime. The project has a high probability of success based on the recent development by Adelphi Technology Inc. and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory of new RF plasma neutron generators.

Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 750.00K | Year: 2008

No long-lived gamma-ray calibration sources exist with energies above 3.5 MeV, which is an impediment to the calibration of high-purity-germanium and scintillation detectors used in homeland security, nuclear physics and astrophysics. Recent advances in Prompt Gamma-ray Activation Analysis with guided neutron beams have led to the precise calibration of neutron-capture gamma ray sources with energies up to 10.8 MeV. In this project, these neutron-capture gamma ray sources will be produced in a moderator/transducer surrounding a compact, low-yield neutron generator that uses the safe D-D fusion reaction. In Phase I, a portable gamma-ray generator was designed using an inexpensive ion source, a self-replenishing target for generating neutrons, and a compact moderator with a gamma-ray transducer. The parameters for selecting the three major components were based on the required count rate for calibrating the frequency and efficiency of the detector, while still ensuring operator safety and minimizing possible damage to the detector. The high-energy gamma ray spectrum was measured using the selected transducer material. In Phase II, the ion source will be fabricated and tested, and the fast neutron generator will be fabricated and integrated into the moderator and gamma ray emitter. Then, the source¿s gamma-ray yield will be measured, and the source¿s safety and benefits for detector calibration will be determined. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits as described by the awardee: The DOE and the International Atomic Energy Agency must provide for the application of standards for the safety of nuclear installations and radioactive sources. The new device should enable the easy calibration of the energy and efficiency of HPGe detectors at high gamma ray energies, at in-house installations or in the field, for the identification of nuclear and radioactive materials. It also should reduce security concerns about the storage of radioactive sources currently in use.

Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 100.00K | Year: 2008

Refractive lenses can dramatically improve neutron instrumentation in DOE facilities. In previous experiments, compound refractive lenses (CRLs) were shown to be capable of imaging using thermal neutrons. However, a number of problems exist that prevent the full implementation of these lenses: the initial prototype lenses, which used compression molding of metals, have long focal lengths, small fields of view, poor surface quality, and material inhomogeneities. To achieve shorter focal lengths and shorter neutron wavelengths, the radii of curvature must be reduced. This project will use an injection-molding bubble injection process to design and fabricate refractive lenses that will be able to focus, collimate, and image thermal neutrons. Both simple concave and Fresnel lenses will be investigated. Commercial Applications and other Benefits as described by the awardee: The new CRLs should provide better resolution and higher quality images. They will be inexpensive, compact, and capable of imaging using thermal neutrons with wide bandwidth spectra. Since CRLs should have very modest cost, they would be much less expensive than the large mirrors and other optics currently used. Many scientific and technological applications should ensue, including microscopy, scattering, interferometry, crystallography, and reflectometry.

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