One of the greatest threats to troops in the field today are improvised explosive devices (IED’s). Most methods currently used to protect against these devices rely on mechanical or, directed energy detonation, but before either of these methods can be used the IED must be detected and located.
The scientific principle behind this detection technique utilizes certain properties of the interactions of neutrons with explosives. When neutrons interact with different elements, certain radiation signatures with characteristic energy levels are emitted. This radiation can then be detected to
generate an alert that explosive material is in close proximity.
The ratio of elemental quantities of four key elements – hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen – can be used to identify the type of material that is being detected.
Phoenix Nuclear Labs has developed an electronic neutron generator that is 1000 times stronger than any existing commercial device. For IED detection,
this neutron yield increase corresponds to a dramatic increase in detection speed and standoff distance. Specific operational scenarios include route
clearance, mounted convoy-leading detection of buried IED’s, and unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV)-based interrogation of suspicious vessels.
In detection mode, the primary objective is to detect any explosive or nuclear material as rapidly as possible, from the greatest standoff distance possible. The output in this mode will be a simple binary signal alerting vehicle control systems of positive identification of an explosive. Detection is completely automated. In the second mode, following detection, the system will acquire a signal for a longer time period (~ minutes) and will provide compositional information about the explosive device. This explosive detection system has the potential to save thousands of warfighter and civilian lives.