Description: Miniature spherical retroreflectors, less than 8 millimeters in diameter, are currently being developed to enhance remote optical detection of nuclear proliferation activities. These retroreflecting spheres resemble small, sand-colored marbles that have the unique optical property of providing a strong reflection directly back to the source (i.e., retroreflecting) when illuminated with a laser. The addition of specific coatings, sensitive to specific chemicals or radioactive decay in the environment, can be applied to the surface of these retroreflectors to provide remote detection of nuclear proliferation activities. The presence of radioactive decay (e.g., alpha, gamma, neutron) or specific chemicals in the environment (e.g., TBP, acids) will change the optical properties of the spheres in a predictable fashion, thus indicating the presence or absence of the target materials. One possible scenario might employ an airborne infrared laser system (e.g., quantum-cascade lasers) to illuminate a section of ground littered with these retroreflective spheres. Depending on the coating and the presence of a specific chemical or radioisotope in the environment, the return signal would be modified in some predictable fashion because of fluorescence, frequency shifting, intensity attenuation/enhancement, or change in polarization. Research conducted in FY 2007 focused on developing novel optical fabrication processes and exploiting the unique material properties of chalcogenide infrared-transparent glass (germanium-arsenic-sulfur-tellurium compounds) to produce highly efficient retroreflectors. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s approach provides comparable performance to the ideal graded index sphere concept, developed by R. K. Luneburg in 1944 (Luneburg 1944), while greatly reducing the complexity in fabrication by utilizing chalcogenide glass materials and compression-molding processes.
Date: February 20, 2008
Creator: Anheier, Norman C.; Bernacki, Bruce E. & Krishnaswami, Kannan
Item Type: Refine your search to only Report
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department