10 June 2005 Using an electron beam to produce a bright isotropic subsurface x-ray source for back illumination in landmine detection
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Why is it so difficult to detect concealed shallow buried landmines while it is relatively easy to image and detect cancers within the human body? One reason is that in medical x-ray imaging, the source is on one side of the body and the detectors are on the other. This is back-illumination, the optimal orientation for x-ray imaging. Can back-illumination be used in landmine detection? That is, is it possible to generate sufficient xrays 10 or more cm below the soil surface so that suitable detectors above ground could be used to image shallow buried objects including landmines? In an x-ray tube, high voltage electron beams produce x-rays by electron deceleration (bremsstrahlung) and induced orbital transitions. It may be possible to produce 1000 amp short pulses of electrons at 30 MeV using an electron gun with multiple field emitters. (This is a section of an antiballistic missile device proposed at SPIE Defense and Security 2004.) Electron beams of such energy have range of approximately 100 m in air and 10-15 cm in soil. This 5-10 m tall device could be carried by balloon, helicopter or land vehicle. X-ray production efficiency at 30 MeV is over 50 fold higher compared to medical x-ray tube efficiency. Such a device would produce a bright isotropic source of x-rays in a subsurface plume that might be usable in landmine detection.
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Michael W. Retsky, "Using an electron beam to produce a bright isotropic subsurface x-ray source for back illumination in landmine detection", Proc. SPIE 5794, Detection and Remediation Technologies for Mines and Minelike Targets X, (10 June 2005); doi: 10.1117/12.601804; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.601804


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