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Posted: March 18, 2010
RUSNANO to Finance Production of Detectors Based on Labeled Neutrons
(Nanowerk News) This project to produce equipment capable of detecting explosives and narcotics for security systems recently won approval by the Supervisory Council of the Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies. The project will have a total budget of 462 million rubles. RUSNANO will invest 155 million rubles in the equity of the project company. Co-investors will finance the balance. The applicant, company-developer DViN, will contribute its intellectual property. The Joint Institute for Nuclear Research will provide the scientific base for the project.
Engineers and researchers at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research used labeled neutron technology to develop the explosives and narcotics detectors—stationary systems for examining baggage, portable detectors for inspecting vehicles, and portable detectors and auxiliary equipment for examining large cargoes in containers. Working with existing designs, projects leaders plan to produce 80 detectors per year by 2015, which would bring annual sales to around one billion rubles. That would allow the company to achieve a 30 percent share of the market for detectors of explosives and narcotics that are based on the labeled neutron method. The production site in Dubna, in Moscow Oblast, was chosen to optimize capital expenditures and engage highly qualified professionals from the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research.
Detectors based on labeled neutrons, in contrast to ordinary x-ray detector units, identify hidden substances by their elements of composition and not by their density. X-ray units easily find bottles in suitcases but cannot determine what is in these bottles—water or liquid explosives. The explosives and narcotics detectors developed at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research resolve that problem.
This type of detector determines the composition of an object by the specter of gamma rays that are emitted when neutrons hit it. The creation of the neutron in a generator is accompanied by the appearance of markings—alpha rays that fly in the opposite direction from the neutron. The mapping of signals coinciding with the alpha and gamma detectors suppresses the background signals by 200 times. This dramatically changes conditions for distinguishing the gamma ray specter from the unknown matter, making their identification quicker and more reliable. When building semiconductor alpha-detectors a technology for obtaining high-alloy nanolayers of less than 100 nanometers is used.
“Pilot use of these detectors has shown that the system identifies more than 30 different explosives. Even when examining sea containers and large-cargo trucks, labeled neutron detectors have demonstrated the outstanding penetration capability that rapid neutrons possess. Moreover, the detectors determine all three coordinates of hidden material, says General Director of DViN Mikhail Sapozhnikov. “Identification occurs automatically, without the participation of an operator. The likelihood of discovering explosives is up to 98 percent, while the frequency of false alarms stays at the level of two percent.”
“A new Russian player coming into this market with such promising technology will enable us to opt out of expensive imported models that are less effective in detecting explosives and narcotics,” RUSNANO Managing Director Georgy Kolpachev emphasized. “The project will extend the development of promising neutron detection methods already in use for cancer treatment in medicine and for studying wells in the oil industry. The project will stimulate demand for high-technology products from other Russian businesses—companies engaged in manufacturing neutron generators and electronics.”
DViN was established in 2008 to commercialize advances in the use of labeled neutrons for identifying explosives and narcotics made at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research. The company owns a scientific-research center and experimental production facilities in Dubna (Moscow Oblast). Its network of collaborating institutions includes such leading scientific centers as the All-Russia Research Institute of Automatics, the A.A. Bochvar All-Russia Research Institute of Inorganic Materials, the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research, and the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation.