Glass fibers lead to scintillating discovery
While a road embedded with sensors to detect smuggled nuclear weapons sounds more like the latest James Bond anti-smuggling scheme, it's real-life technology found right around the bend at the U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
Pacific Northwest researchers have developed an innovative radiation sensor comprised of lightweight, flexible glass fibers that provides portable, real-time measurements of neutrons and gamma rays. Called PUMA for plutonium measurement and analysis, the sensor can be embedded in a variety of materials or literally wrapped, like fingers, around objects of various shapes to analyze contents.
The technology is adaptable to a wide range of applications, from environmental restoration and nonproliferation to cancer treatment. For example, fibers can be installed in asphalt roads to detect the transport of unauthorized or diverted nuclear weapons material, or wrapped around drums and other containers to inventory contents. PUMA has been licensed to Canberra Industries of Meriden, Conn.
Building a green thumb for research
A garden of a different sort is blooming at Pacific Northwest's Marine Sciences
Laboratory. A marine greenhouse recently built at the Sequim, Wash., laboratory
will provide scientists with a temperature- and light-controlled facility that
mimics fresh water and seawater environments. The first project to bloom in the
greenhouse involves growing eelgrass in conditions favorable for flowering and
seed production. Marine scientists have stockpiled eelgrass at the Sequim
laboratory for two years as part of a plan to supplement eelgrass populations in
the Puget Sound near Seattle, Wash. Eelgrass beds are a resting, foraging and
hiding place for juvenile salmon and have been disappearing in the Puget Sound.
The greenhouse will allow researchers to test how well eelgrass grown in a
greenhouse survives once transplante
Contact: Media Relations
DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory