Detection of special nuclear material with a transportable active interrogation system

  • Francesco d’ErricoEmail author
  • Giuseppe Felici
  • Andrea Chierici
  • Raffaele Zagarella
Regular Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Focus Point on New Technologies Related to Intentional and Accidental Release of CBRNe Agents


Special nuclear materials hidden in shipping containers are extremely difficult to detect through their faint spontaneous emission of neutrons and photons. R&D efforts focus on active interrogation (AI) techniques, employing external beams of neutrons or high-energy X-rays to first trigger fission reactions and then detect prompt or delayed neutrons and/or photons. Our group created a complete active interrogation system based on detectors developed by the universities of Pisa and Yale and on an ultra-compact linear accelerator (LINAC). The detectors contain liquid droplets that vaporize when exposed to fast neutrons but are insensitive to X-rays. The X-ray generator is based on 9MeV electron LINAC developed by S.I.T. Sordina S.p.A. for intraoperative radiotherapy. The latter is a standing-wave design that does not require external solenoids for electron radial focusing. Copper is used both as X-ray production target and as collimator, which prevents the production of photo-neutrons. In our first tests, we detected depleted uranium, while excluding significant production of contaminant photo-neutrons.


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Copyright information

© Società Italiana di Fisica and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francesco d’Errico
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Giuseppe Felici
    • 4
  • Andrea Chierici
    • 1
  • Raffaele Zagarella
    • 5
  1. 1.Università di PisaScuola di IngegneriaPisaItaly
  2. 2.Istituto Nazionale di Fisica NuclearePisaItaly
  3. 3.Yale University and Yale Center for Emergency Preparedness and Disaster ResponseNew HavenUSA
  4. 4.S.I.T. - Sordina IORT Technologies S.p.A.VicenzaItaly
  5. 5.Centro Interforze Studi per le Applicazioni MilitariSan Piero a Grado (Pisa)Italy

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