Feasibility Studies on Explosive Detection and Homeland Security Applications Using a Neutron and X-Ray Combined Computed Tomography System


The successful creation and operation of a neutron and X-ray combined computed tomography (NXCT) system has been demonstrated by researchers at the Missouri University of Science and Technology. The NXCT system has numerous applications in the field of material characterization and object identification in materials with a mixture of atomic numbers represented. Presently, the feasibility studies have been performed for explosive detection and homeland security applications, particularly in concealed material detection and determination of the light atomic number materials. These materials cannot be detected using traditional X-ray imaging. The new system has the capability to provide complete structural and compositional information due to the complementary nature of X-ray and neutron interactions with materials. The design of the NXCT system facilitates simultaneous and instantaneous imaging operation, promising enhanced detection capabilities of explosive materials, low atomic number materials and illicit materials for homeland security applications. In addition, a sample positioning system allowing the user to remotely and automatically manipulate the sample makes the system viable for commercial applications. Several explosives and weapon simulants have been imaged and the results are provided. The fusion algorithms which combine the data from the neutron and X-ray imaging produce superior images. This paper is a compete overview of the NXCT system for feasibility studies of explosive detection and homeland security applications. The design of the system, operation, algorithm development, and detection schemes are provided. This is the first combined neutron and X-ray computed tomography system in operation. Furthermore, the method of fusing neutron and X-ray images together is a new approach which provides high contrast images of the desired object. The system could serve as a standardized tool in nondestructive testing of many applications, especially in explosives detection and homeland security research. ©2013 SPIE.

Meeting Name

Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosives (CBRNE) Sensing XIV


Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Science

Keywords and Phrases

Advanced Radiation Imaging System; Computed Tomography; Digital Imaging; Explosive Detection; Homeland Security; Neutron Tomography; Nondestructive Evaluation; Robotics & Automation; SNM Detection; X-Ray Tomography

Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


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© 2013 SPIE, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jan 2013