In contrast to transmission X-ray imaging systems where inspected objects must pass between source and detector, Compton backscatter imaging allows both the illuminating source as well as the X-ray detector to be on the same side of the target object, enabling the inspection to occur rapidly and in a wide variety of
A Compton backscatter image is similar to a photograph of the contents of a closed container, taken through the container walls, and highlights low atomic number materials such as explosives, drugs, and alcohol, which appear as especially bright objects by virtue of their scattering characteristics. Techniques for producing X-ray images based on Compton scattering will be discussed, along with examples of how these systems are used for both novel security applications and for the detection of contraband materials at ports and borders. Differences between transmission and backscatter images will also be highlighted. In addition, tradeoffs between Compton backscatter image quality and scan speed, effective penetration, and X-ray source specifications will be discussed.