Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) officials said a pair of California-based firms have been selected to participate in its Gamma Ray Inspection Technology (GRIT) program to aid medical applications.
Lumitron Technologies and RadiaBeam Technologies have initiated efforts to develop transportable, tunable gamma ray sources for national security, industrial and medical purposes, exploring new methods to achieve high-intensity and narrow-bandwidth sources of gamma rays, radiation in a compact, transportable form factor.
“If we can develop a transportable system that could be moved to the point of need on a flatbed semi-trailer or rail car, for example, it could transform nondestructive inspection in many areas of interest, such as radiography of critical-use, high-value aircraft or machine parts, or inspection of cargo for contraband,” Mark Wrobel, program manager for GRIT in DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office, said. “A transportable, tunable gamma ray source could also be useful in mining to identify rare-earth elements in ores or for advanced medical diagnostics to provide more detailed information than is possible with existing X-ray technology.”
GRIT’s scope of work seeks to provide the gamma rays via tens of keV (kilo-electron volts) up through three MeV (mega-electron volts). Currently, tunable and narrow bandwidth gamma ray sources exist only at highly specialized user facilities suited for basic research and not able to support broad practical applications.