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Device for Detection of Explosives


Creation of a Device for Detection of Explosives, Nuclear and other Hazardous Materials in Cargo Containers and Luggage

Tech Area / Field

  • FIR-INS/Nuclear Instrumentation/Fission Reactors
  • FIR-NSS/Nuclear Safety and Safeguarding/Fission Reactors
  • INS-DET/Detection Devices/Instrumentation

8 Project completed

Registration date

Completion date

Senior Project Manager
Lapidus O V

Leading Institute
Khlopin Radium Institute, Russia, St Petersburg


  • Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, USA, CA, Livermore\nKyoto University / Institute of Advanced Energy, Japan, Kyoto\nUniversity of Padova / Department of Physics, Italy, Padova\nOak Ridge National Laboratory, USA, TN, Oak Ridge\nBubble Technology Industries Inc., Canada, ON, Chalk River

Project summary

The goal of the Project is to develop, build and demonstrate a device for detection of explosive substances (ES) and fissioning nuclear materials in cargo containers and luggage. The urgency of this work is dictated by a worldwide need to counter terrorist threats and organized crime, which requires development of novel approaches to the detection of hazardous substance, including those based on active nuclear methods. At present there is a worldwide boom in the development of sophisticated systems for detection of hazardous cargoes, and the market share of such systems will in the nearest future exceed that of conventional X-ray systems.

The proposed device (hereinafter referred to as “scanning module”) for detection of explosive substances and shielded nuclear materials in cargo containers will be based on Nanosecond Neutron Analysis (NNA). NNA is based on the detection of the secondary gamma- or neutron radiation, which is induced in the inspected object by 14 MeV neutrons, and analysis of its time- and spatial correlations with these primary neutrons. The method is position-sensitive, which allows one to obtain 3D image of the inspected object. Analysis of correlations leads to a significant reduction of the background component in the detected radiation. Analysis of energy spectra of secondary gamma-rays using different mathematical methods allows one to determine elemental composition of the material inside the inspected container or luggage. NNA significantly increases the reliability of detection of hazardous materials inside the inspected object, which is an important characteristic of inspection systems.

Specialists from Radium Institute have significant experience in the development of systems for detection of hazardous materials. The principles underlying NNA were developed at Radium institute in the framework of the ISTC Project #1050. Later, in the framework of the CRDF Project #RP-564-ST-03 Radium institute built a portable sensor of explosives based on NNA (SENNA) for detection of explosives concealed inside small objects (e.g. hand luggage).

The proposed project will be devoted to the development and production of a basic multi-detector module, which will serve as a component of a high-efficiency scanner consisting of a neutron source and a number of gamma-ray and neutron detectors. The work of the module as a system for express analysis and detection of hazardous materials inside cargo containers, including 40’ sea containers, will be demonstrated.

The following work will be carried out in the framework of the Project:

  1. Modeling of the responses of different materials and construction of the test libraries.
  2. Development of data analysis and decision-making algorithms.
  3. Modeling of the geometry and operation of scanning module.
  4. Construction of the basic multi-detector module and equipping of a neutron generator with a 25-segment detector of associated alpha-particles.
  5. Construction of two high-efficiency neutron detectors and their integration into the basic module.
  6. Development and construction of the data acquisition and control system.
  7. Laboratory test of the module, including measurement of responses from realistic cargoes.
  8. Demonstration of the module as tool for detection of explosive substances and shielded nuclear materials inside sea containers at a laboratory test ground.

The results of tests will be used as a basis for formulation of proposals for application of the basic module in cargo and luggage inspection systems, including building a highly-efficient volume scanner consisting of several (up to six) basic modules. This technical proposal will be a first step towards commercialization of the scanner and its introduction to the market of advanced systems for inspection of sea containers, cargo and luggage.


The International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) is an intergovernmental organization connecting scientists from Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Georgia with their peers and research organizations in the EU, Japan, Republic of Korea, Norway and the United States.


ISTC facilitates international science projects and assists the global scientific and business community to source and engage with CIS and Georgian institutes that develop or possess an excellence of scientific know-how.

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