POST Online Media Lite Edition



 

Lasers can detect weapons-grade uranium from miles away

Staff Writer |
A technique for detecting enriched uranium with lasers could help regulators sniff out illicit nuclear activities from as far as a couple of miles away.

Article continues below






It's hard enough to identify nuclear materials when you can directly scan a suspicious suitcase or shipping container. But if you can't get close?

Now, the researchers have shown that a technique often used to identify chemicals at a distance can also distinguish between ordinary uranium-238 and the fission-prone uranium-235. Just three fewer neutrons make a big difference in the element's potential for destruction.

"It's a much harder problem to try to measure different isotopes of the same element," said Igor Jovanovic, professor of nuclear engineering and radiological sciences at the University of Michigan, who conducted parts of the research while at Pennsylvania State University.

"Different isotopes are very important in the case of uranium because some of them can be used for the production of nuclear weapons."

With ordinary chemical detection—the approach used by the Mars Curiosity rover, for instance—a laser strikes a surface and causes electrons to jump off the atoms and molecules, forming a plasma.

When the electrons jump back into the atoms and molecules, and then come down from higher-energy states within them, they emit light in a particular set of colors that serve as a fingerprint for that atom or molecule.

Jovanovic and his team—Kyle Hartig, assistant professor of nuclear engineering at the University of Florida, and Isaac Ghebregziabher, a postdoctoral scholar at Penn State—showed that this technique can tell the difference between uranium-235 and uranium-238 when the uranium is bonded with oxygen.

"Not only is it possible to make measurements in air, but some constituents of air in fact make this detection more readily achievable," Jovanovic said.

The technique takes advantage of a phenomenon known as laser filamentation.

When very short—and very intense—laser pulses run through the air, they create a plasma channel along the beam line.

The channel serves as a sort of an optical fiber, keeping the laser pulses focused so that they strike their targets in a small spot, even at distances of a kilometer or more.

The intense laser pulses create a plasma from the uranium as well as the air, which gives uranium plenty of opportunity to bond with oxygen. When it does, the energy stored in the bond between the oxygen and the uranium-235 or -238 is just different enough to be detectable.

"These molecules radiate just slightly different colors, depending on whether we are looking at uranium-235 or uranium-238," Jovanovic said.


What to read next

Mexico tests self-driven car on streets and highways
Old theory overturned: There was no big war on Easter Island
Americans love assault weapons more than ever

Another round of heavy rainfall and severe storms impacting southern U.S.

 
A broad area of showers and thunderstorms is expected Friday across much of the eastern U.S., with the chance for moderate to heavy rainfall likely to focus from the Lower Great Lakes south through the Appalachians into the Ohio/Tennessee Valleys and to the Gulf Coast.
 
 

Latest

U.S oil and gas rigs count increased by 1 to 604
NYCEDC supporting major battery energy storage project in New York City
UK: People with HIV can now donate eggs or sperm to start family
SEG Solar and Grand Batang City sign land utilization deal for Southeast Asia's largest PV industrial park

NEWS

French growers protest Moroccan imports

Kenya restores internet services after undersea cable outages
U.S.: Severe weather and flooding possible in southeast and Hawaii; above normal temperatures for west
Body of sixth missing worker recovered from Baltimore bridge collapse
1.6 tons of fresh vegetables and processed food seized in Singapore
U.S.: Strong Pacific storm approaching
 

BUSINESS

U.S. drillers cut oil and gas rigs to 603

Number of U.S. oil and natural gas rigs down
U.S. added 2 oil rigs
U.S. oil rig count up by 5 to 511
Rhode Island Governor, State Police promote safe travel across Washington Bridge
U.S. drillers cut oil and gas rigs to 620
 

Trending Now

Bulgaria demands €400 million from Gazprom for suspended gas supplies

SEG Solar and Grand Batang City sign land utilization deal for Southeast Asia's largest PV industrial park

UK government unveils major package of farming and food sector support

Maersk speeds up supply chains in Europe with new Cross Dock facility


POLITICS

Governor Moore announces renewal and expansion of economic MoU with South Australia

Governor Parson to embark on trade mission to Italy to promote Missouri as ideal business location
Governor Abbott hosts Kosovo President Osmani
Australian government to set up inquiry to examine impact of social media
Hungary and China sign 19 cooperation agreements during Xi's visit
Türkiye announces suspension of trade activities with Israel
 

Today We Recommend

French growers protest Moroccan imports


Highlights 

BlueHalo to expand operations, adding 200 new jobs in Maryland

Takeda operating profit down 56.4%

Nissan posts increase in Q4 operating profit and net income


COMPANIES

Bulgaria demands €400 million from Gazprom for suspended gas supplies

BlueHalo to expand operations, adding 200 new jobs in Maryland
Maersk speeds up supply chains in Europe with new Cross Dock facility
Unite says ‘all options’ on table to save Tennent’s Newbridge plant
Fortaco sells its heavy project business in Hungary
Gibson Custom introduces Slash 1963 ES-335
 

CAREERS

BioMar announces changes in management in Ecuador

CLG appoints managing director for Equatorial Guinea
Mark Gazit appointed executive chairman of N.E.W.S.
IFCO appoints Sebastian Grams as chief digital officer
Marlabs appoints Arun Mukunda as CRO
AfdB names Ambassador Jalel Trabelsi as Special Envoy for Middle East and North Africa and Gulf region
 

ECONOMY

Eurozone reports modest Q1 GDP growth, stable annual inflation

Italy sees faster economic growth in Q1
Slovenia's economy expected to grow 0.9 pct in Q1
Italy faces deficit infringement procedure
Real GDP increased in all 50 U.S. states
Inflation continues to decline in Germany
 

EARNINGS

Dole Q1 revenue $2.1 billion

Hapag-Lloyd Q1 EBITDA $942 million
Stellantis Q1 revenues down 12%
Takeda operating profit down 56.4%
Ahold Delhaize Q1 sales up 1.3%
Nissan posts increase in Q4 operating profit and net income
 

OP-ED

Micromanaging is the worst enemy of efficiency and teamwork

Niger set to monetize massive gas reserves through Saharan natural gas pipeline
Putting the brakes on EV folly that choked the market
Oil discovery in Kavango Basin may mean huge benefits for Namibians
Cape Town and Dubai battle over Africa's energy future
Is America going to lose its superpower status?
 

AGRIFISH

UK government unveils major package of farming and food sector support

Governor Desantis signs legislation to keep lab-grown meat out of Florida
Tanzania, Kenya resolve poultry export dispute
FAO Food Price Index rises in March
Australia grants license for GM bananas amid Fusarium Wilt TR4 concerns
Indian government allows exports of 10,000 tons of onions to UAE
 

LEADERSHIP

Study finds workers misjudge wage markets

Some organizations may need to expand their hierarchical structures earlier than others
Study finds there's right way and wrong way to deliver negative feedback in workplace
Allyship is critical and its needs appreciation
Generating 'buzz' about new products can influence their success
Hiring 'problem directors' can knock up to 64% off firm's value
 

CRIME

HSBC pays penalties for alleged breaches of Consumer Data Right rules

Sanofi to settle thousands of Zantac cancer lawsuits
Former asset manager and board member of Geneva private bank referred to Swiss Federal Criminal Court
South Africa: SAP ordered to pay SIU $26m over 'invalid' Eskom contracts
Former Steinhoff director appears in court for $1.1b fraud, racketeering
Genesis agrees to pay $21 million penalty to settle SEC charges
 

Magazine

TRAVEL

Morocco’s first Radisson branded hotel opens in Casablanca

Buna channels, an unreal and beautiful part of Bosnia and Herzegovina
JW Marriott unveils Mindful Haven with opening of JW Marriott Hotel Nairobi
Sotheby's Sports Week returns with fantastic artifacts
Red Roof properties open in Michigan
Treyam, your premier lagoon destination in Saudi Arabia
 

SEA, LAND, AIR

2025 Chevrolet Equinox stands apart with fresh looks and capability

Hill Helicopters HX50, luxury in the sky
Opel Movano becomes fully equipped camper van
Porsche Panamera, new hybrid variants
Dodge Charger, 670 horsepower of electric
Pagani Huayra R Evo, 900 hp from 770 Nm
 

DESIGN

Cold night, hot fire pit, cool entertainment

Embellish your home with PVC panels
You'll have to hurry if you want one of 20 new Louis Vuitton watches
Luxury duvet looks good, fells good and keeps you healthy
Vacheron Constantin, watches for life and more
Schüller kitchens, where functionality marries design
 

GADGETS

reMarkable 2, monochrome tablet for your thoughts and your eyes

OnePlus Ace 3V, first with Snapdragon 7 Plus Gen 3
ASUS Zenfone 11 Ultra, flagship with a reason
Samsung Galaxy S24 is photography powerhouse
Casette tapes are making a big comeback, and so are portable players
Neumann TLM 103, standard microphone for both voice and music
 

HEALTH

EU health watchdog urges vaccinations to stem surge in Whooping Cough cases

Brazil resumes insulin production after two decades
India launches first home-grown gene therapy for cancer
UK scientists win funding for 'cancer detecting' Lollipops
State to cover rare disease treatment costs in Bulgaria
Type 1 diabetes patients in England to receive 'artificial pancreas' as medication
 

MEANTIME

Rare species of wild bees discovered in Berlin

SLAC completes construction of largest digital camera ever built for astronomy
Solar eclipse next week in U.S., Mexico and Canada
Gravitational waves may have made human life possible
Astronomers unveil strong magnetic fields spiraling at the edge of Milky Way's central black hole
Scientists on hunt for evidence of quantum gravity's existence at South Pole