Bomb Detection Using Backscattered X-Rays

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Bomb Detection Using Backscattered X-rays* Currently the most common method to determine the contents of a package suspected of containing an explosive device is to use transmission radiography. This technique requires that an x-ray source and film be placed on opposite sides of the package. This poses a problem if the pachge is placed so that only one side is accessible, such as against a wall. There is also a threat to persomel and property since exTlosive devices may be "booby trapped." We have developed a method to x-ray a paclage using backscattered x-rays. This procedure eliminates the use of ... continued below

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Jacobs, J.; Lockwood, G.; Selph, M; Shope, S. & Wehlburg, J. October 1, 1998.

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  • Sandia National Laboratories
    Publisher Info: Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM, and Livermore, CA
    Place of Publication: Albuquerque, New Mexico

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Bomb Detection Using Backscattered X-rays* Currently the most common method to determine the contents of a package suspected of containing an explosive device is to use transmission radiography. This technique requires that an x-ray source and film be placed on opposite sides of the package. This poses a problem if the pachge is placed so that only one side is accessible, such as against a wall. There is also a threat to persomel and property since exTlosive devices may be "booby trapped." We have developed a method to x-ray a paclage using backscattered x-rays. This procedure eliminates the use of film behind the target. All of the detection is done from the same side as the source. When an object is subjected to x-rays, some of them iare scattered back towards the source. The backscattenng of x-rays is propordoml to the atomic number (Z) of the material raised to the 4.1 power. This 24"' dependence allows us to easily distinguish between explosives, wires, timer, batteries, and other bomb components. Using transmission radiography-to image the contents of an unknown package poses some undesirable risks. The object must have an x-ray film placed on the side opposite the x-ray source; this cannot be done without moving the package if it has been placed firmly against a wall or pillar. Therefore it would be extremely usefid to be able to image the contents of a package from only one side, without ever having to disturb the package itself. where E is the energy of the incoming x-ray. The volume of x-rays absorbed is important because it is, of course, directly correlated to the intensity of x-mys that will be scattered. Most of the x-rays that scatter will do so in a genemlly forward direction; however, a small percentage do scatter in a backward direction. Figure 1 shows a diagram of the various fates of x-rays directed into an object. The package that was examined in this ex~enment was an attache case made of pressed fiberboardwith a vinyl covering. It was approxirmtely 36 cm wide by 51 cm long by 13 cm deep. The case was placed on an aluminum sheet under the x-ray source. Because of the laborato~ setup, the attache case was rastered in the y-coordinate direction, while the x-ray source mstered in the x-coordinate direction. However, for field use, the x-ray source would of course raster in both the x- and y-coordinate directions, while the object under interrogation would remain stationary and undisturbed. A mobile system for use by law enforcement agencies or bomb disposal squads needs to be portable and somewhat durable. A 300 kV x-ray source should be sufficient for the task requirements and can be mounted on a mobile system. A robotic carriage could be used to transport the x-ray source and the CCD camera to the proximity of the suspect package. The controlling and data analyzing elements of the system' could then be maintained at a &tie distance from the possible explosive. F@re 8 shows a diagram of a conceptual design of a possible system for this type of use. The use of backscattered x-rays for interrogation of packages that may contain explosive devices has been shown to be feasible inthelaboratory. Usinga 150kVx-ray source anddetectors consisting of plastic scintillating material, all bomb components including the wiring were detectable. However, at this time the process requires more time than is desirable for the situations in which it will most likely be needed. Further development of the technology using CCD cameras, rather than the plastic stint illator detectors, shows promise of leading to a much faster system, as well as one with better resolution. Mounting the x- ray source and the CCD camera on a robotic vehicle while keeping the controlling and analyzing components and the opemting personnel a safe distance away from the suspect package will allow such a package to be examined at low risk to human life.

Source

  • Photonics East--Enabling Technology for Law Enforcement; Boston, MA; 11/03-05/1998

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  • Other: DE00000751
  • Report No.: SAND98-2219C
  • Grant Number: AC04-94AL85000
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 751
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc710972

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  • October 1, 1998

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 12, 2015, 6:31 a.m.

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  • Dec. 2, 2016, 8:43 p.m.

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Jacobs, J.; Lockwood, G.; Selph, M; Shope, S. & Wehlburg, J. Bomb Detection Using Backscattered X-Rays, article, October 1, 1998; Albuquerque, New Mexico. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc710972/: accessed November 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.