If you're trying to smuggle nuclear material into or out of the United States, getting through Customs is even tougher now thanks to an award-winning, pocket-sized device developed at the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory.
Nuclear scientist Rahmat Aryaeinejad designed a device to simultaneously detect two types of radiation-bundles of massless energy called gamma rays and tiny particles called neutrons. The device, called a dosimeter, has been recognized as one of the 100 most significant technological achievements for the year 2000 by R&D Magazine. Aryaeinejad will receive his award at a gala at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, on Sept. 27, 2000.
A dosimeter is an instrument that responds to the presence of radiation, and measures the dose or amount of exposure. Used at hospitals, nuclear power plants, and research labs, these devices are an important part of personnel workplace safety. Aryaeinejad is putting the instrument to use for national security-a primary mission of the Department of Energy and the INEEL as well.
"This year's R&D 100 awards recognize the Department of Energy's continued contribution to our Nation's economic prosperity and well-being," said Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson. "Energy Department laboratories are a wellspring of innovation, and I congratulate the researchers on their success."
Aryaeinejad began work on his battery-operated detector in 1997 in response to a technology need of the U.S. Customs office. In the day-to-day duties of national defense, commonly transported radioactive medical isotopes were a constant source of false security alarms for Customs officials. They wanted an instrument that could quickly detect the kinds of radioactive materials they really worry about-materials such as weapons-grade plutonium.
To detect materials such as plutonium, Aryaeinejad needed to be able to measure both gamma rays and neutrons-a challenge because they
Contact: Deborah Hill
DOE/Idaho National Laboratory