X-Radiography of Cargo Containers

J. I. Katz, G. S. Blanpied, K. N. Borozdin, C. Morris, "X-Radiography of Cargo Containers," Science & Global Security, 15, no. 1, (2007): 49-56.
The problem of detecting a nuclear weapon smuggled in an ocean-going cargo container has not been solved, and the detonation of such a device in a large city could produce casualties and property damage exceeding those of September 11, 2001 by orders of magnitude. Any means of detecting such threats must be fast and cheap enough to screen the millions of containers shipped each year, and must be capable of distinguishing a threatening quantity of fissionable material from the complex loading of masses of innocent material found in many containers. Here we show that radiography with energetic X-rays produced by a 10 MeV electron accelerator, taking advantage of the high density and specific atomic properties of fissionable material, may be a practical solution.

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