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Japan and Hungary jointly developing device to X-ray volcanoes

Staff Writer |
Japanese and Hungarian researchers are developing a portable device to conduct X-ray of volcanoes through subatomic particles to predict their activities.

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The technology, based on the detection of muons, a type of electrically charged elementary particles, and directed to reflect internal structures of opaque objects, has already been employed in archaeology and was also used to analyze the interior of Japan's Fukushima plant after the nuclear accident.

The device, jointly developed by the University of Tokyo and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, is much smaller, lighter and cheaper than others currently available, Japanese researcher and project head Hiroyuki Tanaka told EFE on Tuesday.

The device can be used in the fields of volcanology and seismology, as well as to analyze internal conditions of buildings and other architectural structures, among other commercial applications.

The current prototype weighs 10 kg and can fit inside a bag, as opposed to current models in the market that weigh several tons and cost around $973,000.

In May this year, the University of Tokyo's Earthquake Research Institute and the Wigner Research Centre for Physics at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences signed an agreement on intellectual property cooperation to explore commercial applications of the new technology.

The team hopes to commercialize the product "in the coming years" at less than 10 percent of the price of current devices, which will allow its use in other fields such as analysis of glaciers and mining exploration, said the researcher.

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