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Laser-driven neutrons used to stop nuclear smugglers

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Los Alamos National Laboratory researchers have successfully demonstrated for the first time that laser-generated neutrons can be enlisted as a useful tool in the War on Terror.
The international research team in February used the short-pulse laser at Los Alamos’ TRIDENT facility to generate a neutron beam with novel characteristics that interrogated a closed container to confirm the presence and quantity of nuclear material inside. The successful experiment paves the way for creation of a table-top-sized or truck-mounted neutron generator that could be installed at strategic locations worldwide to thwart smugglers trafficking in nuclear materials.
“We have demonstrated for the first time a novel approach for generating a record number of neutrons driven by a laser directed into a beam over a very small area that could provide proof positive of a large variety of nuclear items,” said Los Alamos physicist Andrea Favalli, an Italian researcher who led the February experiment.


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