Researchers in the Nuclear Science Division – including Ren Cooper, Kai Vetter, and Brian Quiter – are featured in this article about how researchers in Berkeley Lab’s Applied Nuclear Physics (ANP) program are combining multiple radiological sensors with smart robots for the latest evolution in mapping nuclear radiation.

“It can take a long time to see improvement in radiological technology like gamma-ray detectors, so we’re defining the state-of-the-art by leveraging other sensor types,” said Ren Cooper, deputy head of the ANP program. “It’s not just nuclear physics – it’s robotics, computer vision, software, and other elements coming together that enable societal benefits.”

Applications of this technology include improved nuclear safety by monitoring radioactive sources used at power plants, particle accelerators, or in hospitals; nuclear security and non-proliferation efforts; environmental cleanup and remediation; and emergency response to disasters. Radiation mapping could also potentially help teams find some of the millions of landmines buried around the world. While landmines are not radioactive, researchers are investigating how a technique called “active probing” using neutrons might cause the landmines to emit gamma rays they could then detect. 

​​Systems to map radiation may also find applications in new areas in the future. Researchers could potentially use them for critical materials recovery (a way to look for geologically interesting materials that former mine sites were throwing away because they weren’t deemed valuable at the time – lithium for electric cars, for example) and to monitor the health of spacecraft and astronauts on longer journeys where they are exposed to cosmic radiation.

Read the full article:
Making Rad Maps With Robot Dogs
October 11, 2023 / Lauren Biron / Berkeley Lab News Center