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Ultra-Compact DT Neutron Generator for Enhanced Radiation Detection

Description:

OUSD (R&E) CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Microelectronics OBJECTIVE: DTRA seeks to significantly reduce the size, weight, and power (SWaP) of battery-powered Deuterium-Tritium (DT) neutron generators to less than 10 pounds (stretch goal: less than 5 pounds) with as small a volumetric footprint as possible, while operating on CR123 or standard power tool lithium-ion batteries. DESCRIPTION: Current commercial DT neutron generators are too large for Department of Defense (DoD) expeditionary missions. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) previously invested in the Intense and Compact Neutron Sources (ICONS) program1, which made significant strides towards the development and commercialization of highly compact neutron generators. However, DoD forces require an even more lightweight (<10 pound), compact (<100 cubic inches), 1E8 neutrons/second (both pulsed and continuous are acceptable if they reach average 1E8 neutrons/second over 1 second) DT neutron generator for multiple applications. Advancements in high-voltage power supplies, capacitors, and spark gap technologies due to DoD investments in directed energy weapons (DEW) for the past decade as well as recent advances in medical isotope production may provide new opportunities for extremely compact and modern neutron generator concepts. The proposed effort does not require associated particle imaging (API) electronics to be incorporated. PHASE I: Conceptualize and design a breadboard electronic DT neutron source. Although not required, more than one concept may be developed and/or evaluated during the Phase I effort. For the completion of Phase I, the prototype design(s) should be capable of the following performance characteristics: (1) 1E8 neutron/second, (2) design weight of all primary and supporting equipment required to operate the system (i.e. produce neutrons) less than 10 pounds, (3) total volume of all primary and supporting equipment required to operate the system less than 100 cubic inches, and (4) the system operates on a CR123 or standard lithium-ion battery for power tools. Modeling and simulation of the design should be conducted and results leading to the final design(s) should be documented and provided in the final report along with a data package on all proposed critical components in the breadboard system design. A design plan should also be submitted outlining the plans for scaling the system to meeting Phase II requirements. PHASE II: Design, construct and test a brassboard electronic DT neutron source building on the Phase I design concept. The use of actual hardware and empirical data collection is expected for the performance analysis of the electronic radiation source and the results should be provided in the final report along with a data package on all critical components in the breadboard system. At the completion of Phase II, the prototype system should be capable of demonstrating the following performance characteristics: (1) 1E8 neutron/second, (2) design weight of all primary and supporting equipment required to operate the system (i.e. produce neutrons) less than 10 pounds with a stretch goal of less than 5 pounds, (3) total volume of all primary and supporting equipment required to operate the system less than 100 cubic inches, and (4) the system operates on a CR123 or standard lithium-ion battery for power tools, (5) the system should be capable of producing 1E8 neutrons/second in less than 1 minute of set up time and (6) the system should be able to be safe to transport within 5 minutes after turn off (i.e. minimal activation of components, automated stored energy dissipation). PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Phase III will consist of a demonstration of a fully capable and packaged electronic neutron source meeting the specified requirements outlined in this paragraph. The final system will represent a complete solution and should be ruggedized. As a minimum threshold, the system should be ruggedized for testing in a dry, outdoor environment. The objective for the system should be to meet MIL-STD-810H standards for shock, vibration, temperature, and altitude. At the completion of Phase III, the prototype system should be capable of demonstrating the following performance characteristics: (1) 1E8 neutron/second DT option, (2) design weight of all primary and supporting equipment required to operate the system (i.e. produce neutrons) less than 10 pounds with a stretch goal of less than 5 pounds, (3) total volume of all primary and supporting equipment required to operate the system less than 100 cubic inches, (4) the system operates on CR123 or standard lithium-ion battery for power tools, (5) the system should be capable of producing 1E8 neutrons/second in less than 1 minute of set up time, and (6) the system should be able to be safe to transport within 5 minutes after turn off (i.e. minimal activation of components, automated stored energy dissipation). All data collected during the demonstrating and analysis of the final system will be included in the final report along with a user’s manual and a data package on all critical system components. REFERENCES: 1. https://www.darpa.mil/program/intense-and-compact-neutron-sources; KEYWORDS: Radiography; radiation; imaging; neutron; accelerator; particle; non-destructive testing; NDT; inspection
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