Photon-based Imaging in Active Interrogation of Special Nuclear Material

Hosted by Dr. Andreas Enqvist

Nuclear Engineering Program Seminar Series

Thursday, October 6, 2016                 2:00 – 3:00 p.m.                Rhines Hall, 125



Dr. Anna Erickson

Assistant Professor of Nuclear & Radiological Engineering

Georgia Institute of Technology



Photon-based Imaging in Active Interrogation of Special Nuclear Material



In cargo scanning for special nuclear materials, beam source and detector response influence output image quality, which ultimately determines whether special nuclear material (SNM) can be detected. While bremsstrahlung beams are industry standard, the spectrum is continuous and highly biased towards low energies resulting in low penetration capabilities and increased scan time and dose to ensure adequate detection statistics and image quality. Use of monoenergetic interrogation beams could lead to decreased dose and scan time and improved image quality and material determination. Low-energy nuclear reactions result in quasi-monoenergetic beams, for example 11B(d,n)12C produces prominent gamma peaks at 4.4 and 15.1 MeV. Inverse Compton Scattering (ICS) is another technique which produces quasi-monoenergetic photons and has the advantage of being tunable, allowing the user to select the beam energy. In this work, we compare performance of the three imaging systems based on image quality and dose due to primary interrogating photons as well as secondary radiation.


This work has been supported by the US Department of Homeland Security, Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, under competitively awarded grant 2015-DN-077-ARI096 in collaboration with University of Michigan (I. Jovanovic).  This support does not constitute an express or implied endorsement on the part of the Government.



Anna Erickson is an Assistant Professor of Nuclear & Radiological Engineering in the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech. She received her MS and PhD from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she was a NNSA’s Stewardship Science Graduate Fellow. Prior to her position at Georgia Tech, she was a postdoctoral researcher at the Advanced Detectors Group at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.  Dr. Erickson’s research focuses on advanced nuclear reactor design and national security, connected by the current need for proliferation-resistant nuclear power. On experimental side, her group is involved in large-array imaging applications for homeland security and antineutrino detection.