DARPA selects teams for work on tunable gamma ray inspection Technologies

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Two California companies were chosen for DARPA’s Gamma Ray Inspection Technology (GRIT) application and have begun work to develop a transportable, tunable source of gamma rays for a plethora of national safety, industrial, and medical programs.

Lumitron Technologies and RadiaBeam Technologies began work and are exploring novel approaches to attain tunable functioning, and narrow-bandwidth resources of gamma ray radiation in a compact, transportable form factor.

GRIT aims to supply a source of tunable, pure x-rays and gamma rays from tens of keV (kilo-electron volts) up through three MeV (mega-electron volts). Currently, tunable and are not able to support applications that are broad and bandwidth gamma ray sources exist in highly technical user facilities best suited for research.

Shrinking these photon resources to a system is the purpose and challenge of the program.

“If we can create a transportable system which could be moved to the stage of need on a flatbed semi-trailer or rail car, by way of instance, it might change nondestructive inspection in many regions of interest, such as radiography of critical-use, high-value aircraft or system parts, or review of cargo for contraband,” explained Mark Wrobel, program manager for GRIT in DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office.

“A transportable, tunable gamma ray source might also be useful in mining to identify rare-earth elements in ores or for advanced medical diagnostics to supply more detailed information than is possible with present X-ray technology”

Phase 1 is 24 months. Depending on whether threshold metrics are met by the performers DARPA will decide whether the program progresses to Phase 2.

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