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X-ray Cinematography for Explosive Events



OBJECTIVE: Develop an affordable, multi-frame, radiographic imaging system for explosive events and other high-speed dynamic processes. 

DESCRIPTION: Radiographic imaging is highly useful in characterizing case expansion and fracture in high speed explosive events but the number of images (set by the number of flash x-ray heads) is typically small. High speed video has a high number of frames but limited utility in the near field due to the fireball’s luminescence and optically-thick blast products. The objective of this program is to develop an X-ray cinematography (or pseudo cinematography) system to produce multi-frame images of projectile/fragment/particle motion inside a fireball or other visually-obscure media. The proposed system should be affordable, relatively portable, and survivable (with shielding) in blast/frag environments. Although not intended to restrict innovative approaches, capital costs might be reduced by using equipment commonly found on explosives and ballistics ranges (e.g., flash X-ray systems, Phantom, Simacon, Kirana high speed cameras) as components in the system. See References 1-5 for related work in x-ray cinematography. The goal of this effort is to develop a system with high flexibility across a range of temporal and spatial scales. Important attributes are resolution, number of frames, and frame rate. 

PHASE I: The contractor will develop a system concept and demonstrate feasibility through breadboard development. Testing to show proof-of-concept is highly desirable. The test case should be a dynamic event but can be non-explosive to reduce cost. Merit and feasibility must be clearly demonstrated during this phase. 

PHASE II: Develop, demonstrate, and validate the component technology in a prototype based on the concept developed in Phase I. The Phase II effort should include X-ray imaging of an explosive event and analysis of the images. The Phase II deliverable is a prototype system (consisting of hardware and software) for evaluation by the Air Force. 

PHASE III: The military application is a state-of-the-art x-ray imaging system for highly dynamic processes. The commercial application might include dynamic x-ray imaging systems and/or dynamic x-ray computed tomography (XCT) systems for the automotive and medical industries. 


1: P. Helberg, S. Nau, and K. Thoma, "High-Speed Flash X-Ray Cinematography," 9th European Conference on Non-Destructive Testing, Berlin, September 2006,

2:  K. Thoma, P. Helberg and E. Strassburger, "Real Time-Resolved Flash X-Ray Cinematographic Investigation of Interface Defeat and Numerical Simulation Validation," 23rd International Symposium on Ballistics, Tarragona, Spain, 16-20 April 200

3:  Stefan Moser, Siegfried Nau, Manfred Salk, and Klaus Thoma, "In situ flash x-ray high-speed computed tomography for the quantitative analysis of highly dynamic processes," Meas. Sci. Technol. 25 025009 (2014).

4:  J. W. Tringe et al., "Time-sequenced X-ray Observation of a Thermal Explosion," International Conference of the APS Topical Group on Shock Compression of Condensed Matter, Nashville TN, 28 June – 3 July 2009, LLNL-PROC-415380,

KEYWORDS: Diagnostic, X-ray, Radiography, Imaging, Cinematography, Explosive, M&S Validation 


Donald Littrell 

(850) 882-6802 

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