Crystals detect threats to national security

Jul 15, 2011

Using a crystal ball to protect homeland security might seem far-fetched, but researchers at Wake Forest University and Fisk University have partnered to develop crystals that can be used to detect nuclear threats, radioactive material or chemical bombs more accurately and affordably.

The research is made possible by a $900,000 grant from the Office of Nuclear Nonproliferation of the , within the U.S. .

The grant will support both universities' continued research in the area of radiation detection, which ultimately could lead to improved detector devices for screening cargo containers at ports, airports and border crossings. It would detect trace amounts of radioactive or chemical material – similar to a CT scan or PET scan detecting a tumor in the human body – and lead to better medical diagnostics.

"This grant is an acknowledgement of Fisk and Wake Forest's excellence and leadership in the field of radiation detection research," said Fisk University Professor of Physics and Vice Provost Arnold Burger.

Researchers at Fisk and in national laboratories previously discovered that strontium iodide doped with europium are able to detect and analyze radiation better than most other detection materials. Wake Forest researchers recently demonstrated the unexpectedly crucial role of specific parameters – electron and hole mobilities – needed to predict the best energy resolution of a given detector crystal.

Currently, expense is an issue because of the large quantities of the crystalline material ultimately needed for widely deployed screening devices. However, strontium iodide already performs much better than the most affordable detectors currently used, and the scientists are optimistic that with the right calculations and adjustments, crystals of the needed quality and size can be grown and produced affordably.

"Unexpected radiation situations are a fact of our modern world," said Dr. Richard Williams, Professor of Physics at Wake Forest. "By improving radiation detection and diagnostics, our research will benefit medical advancement as well as international security."

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User comments : 6

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liutenantdan
3.8 / 5 (4) Jul 15, 2011
How is this an acceptable title? The mentality of your readership is not confined by dumb, numbing nationalistic rhetoric. No need to perpetuate that garbage here.
xznofile
not rated yet Jul 15, 2011
"security" (national, homeland, nuclear, and international) was mentioned 6 times on this page, but subliminal innuendo just isn't reaching the right demographic. It would be more of an incentive to pay poor people to be afraid so they'd have a vested interest.
knowledge_treehouse
not rated yet Jul 15, 2011
Maybe they can use this for NUCLEAR SAFETY: http://episin.blo...rgy.html
Maxter
5 / 5 (1) Jul 16, 2011
I agree with the first post about the title. No need for the patriotic garbage here.
Husky
not rated yet Jul 16, 2011
i thought that the interest in national security was perputuated by the widespread paranoia caused by chrystal meth?
therailer
not rated yet Jul 18, 2011
"Unexpected radiation situations are a fact of our modern world," said Dr. Richard Williams, Professor of Physics at Wake Forest.

And we need to concentrate all our efforts to change that fact... I'm tired of being dragged around by the Nuclear Age...."Stop the World, I Want to Get Off!"

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