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Proton Radiography

Los Alamos National Laboratory has used high energy protons as a probe in flash radiography for a decade.


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  • Fesseha Mariam
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pRadThe proton radiography project has used 800-MeV protons, provided by the LANSCE accelerator facility at LANL, to diagnose more than 300 dynamic experiments in support of national and international weapons science and stockpile stewardship programs. Through this effort significant experience has been gained in using charged particles as direct radiographic probes to diagnose transient systems.

Fundamental Materials Research

Radiographs of Aluminum, Copper, Titanium and TinProton radiography, invented at Los Alamos National Laboratory, provides a unique understanding of the fundamental behavior of materials. This set of radiographs taken after various metals were shocked from below reveals radically different behavior; for example, the aluminum sample splits into layers while the tin sample melts.

Dynamic Experiments

radiograph of a materialFor a single experiment, the pRad facility is able to make multiple images over time – currently, up to 37 images. Taken together, these images form a time-lapse movie that illuminates ultra-fast phenomena. Here, an explosive shock passes through a flawed disk of metal from below. The damage and jet resulting from the imperfect surface become evident over time.

Understanding Shocked Materials

Protons penetrate through materials driven by high explosives, giving insights into their behavior under dynamic conditions.

Characterizing Components

Multiple proton pulses provide super-high speed movies of the interiors of explosions for stockpile stewardship without underground testing.

Building Bridges

pRad is training the next generation of national security scientists. Every year, high school, undergraduate, and graduate students, as well as postdocs, visiting scientists, and professors join the pRad team to conduct exciting experiments. pRad attracts new talent to research in shock physics, weapons physics, dynamic materials, and stockpile stewardship.

pRad students

Myriad Opportunities

Both classified and unclassified experiments are welcome at pRad. Research at pRad answers questions crucial to Stockpile Stewardship, and also investigates questions in fundamental and applied science. The penetrating power of protons makes it possible to see interior details of all sorts of materials, even dense metals, for potential applications in science and industry.