Muon tomography is the technique which utilizes cosmic ray muons to create three-dimensional images of volumes using information contained in Coulomb spreading of muons. As muons are much more extremely penetrating than X-rays, muon tomography can be utilized to image through much thicker material than x-ray based tomography like CT scanning. Muon flux at Earth's surface is such that single muon passes through the volume the size of the human hand per second. As its development in 1950s, muon tomography has taken many forms, the significant of which are muon scattering tomography and muon transmission radiography. Muon tomography imagers are in development for the objectives of detecting nuclear material in road transport vehicles and cargo containers for purposes of non-proliferation. Other application is utilization of muon tomography to monitor potential underground sites utilized for carbon sequestration
Los Alamos National Laboratory has offered Decision Sciences Corporation (DSC) the limited universal license to commercialize muon tomography, LANL-created technology.
Muon tomography utilizes in nature happening cosmic-ray muons, a kind of subatomic particle, to detect and recognize concealed nuclear threat materials based on atomic number and density. Dissimilar other imaging and detection techniques, like X-rays, muon tomography can’t be fooled by threat materials which have been shielded as the dense shielding material is itself noticed. Using superior software to image data gathered in the muon tomography scanner, system also creates a three-dimensional image map pointing to the threat object’s precise location.
Building on Los Alamos National Laboratory’s revolutionary work with muon tomography, DSC and Laboratory have collaborated to create the unique cargo-scanning technology which will safely and accurately detect bare, shielded, and masked nuclear threat materials. System harnesses muon tomography to give fundamental security information without revealing system operators, bystanders, or objects inspected to dangerous radiation.
This is an ideal example of Lab’s technology-transfer mission. Through collaboration with DSC, Los Alamos has taken forceful technology from scientific theory to practice, and has found right partner to transform this technology into very important commercial product which is immediately required in marketplace. The Los Alamos and DSC teams have worked closely over last two years and attained vast technical advances in development of muon tomography technology. We are happy to see this technology reach marketplace through winning commercialization.”
Collaboration with DSC has been instrumental in moving technology from laboratory to practical application in comparatively short amount of time, according to Erica Sullivan, Laboratory’s technology transfer liaison for muon tomography project. “Lab’s knowledge in cutting-edge essential science combined with DSC’s product-driven corporate culture has resulted in rapid development of the complete scanner system, which DSC has dubbed Guardian MT, which will advantage nation as in one piece.
As Los Alamos has the rich history in technology development and is one of premier global research institutions in nuclear field, company has been honoured to work closely with Morris and whole Laboratory team in development of this significant technology.
This license opens door for us to chase numerous applications of this transformational technology,” added Michael Sossong, principal inventor of technology, previously with Los Alamos National Laboratory and at present director of nuclear research at DSC. “As lead scientist with responsibility for continued development of this technology leading to extensive commercialization.
Using Gas Electron Multiplier (GEM) detectors, like micropattern gas detectors (MPGD), as tracking detectors for muon tomography. MPGDs can attain the highest spatial resolutions (50 to 150 μm) in the middle of gaseous detectors and the planar GEM detector is only on order of 1 cm thick. This permits the construction of the more compact muon tomography station which has tracking stations with vertical dimensions smaller than 10 cm, that is the order of magnitude smaller than muon tomography stations using drift tubes. We have created and are operating the compact muon tomography station which tracks muons using eight 30cm×30cm Triple Gas Electron Multiplier detectors. Tracking units including two such detectors spaced 7.6 cm apart are placed on four sides of the 27-liter cubic imaging volume. Pulse data from 2D readout strips are obtained with the RD51 Scalable Readout System.