Gamma-Ray Resonant Absorption (GRA) is an automatic-decision radiographic screening technique that combines high radiation penetration with very good sensitivity and specificity to nitrogenous explosives. The method is particularly well-suited to inspection of large, massive objects (since the resonant γ-ray probe is at 9.17 MeV) such as aviation and marine containers, heavy vehicles and railroad cars. Two kinds of γ-ray detectors have been employed to date in GRA systems: 1) Resonant-response nitrogen-rich liquid scintillators and 2) BGO detectors. This paper analyses and compares
the response of these detector-types to the resonant radiation, in terms of single-pixel figures of merit. The latter are sensitive not only to detector response, but also to accelerator-beam quality, via the properties of the nuclear reaction that produces the resonant-γ-rays. Generally, resonant detectors give rise to much higher nitrogen-contrast sensitivity in the radiographic image than their non-resonant detector counterparts and furthermore, do not require proton beams of high energy-resolution. By comparison, the non-resonant detectors have higher γ-detection efficiency, but their contrast sensitivity is very sensitive to the quality of the accelerator beam. Implications of these detector/accelerator
characteristics for eventual GRA field systems are discussed.
A comparison is made between the techniques of Prompt Gamma Neutron Capture Analysis and Nuclear Resonance Absorption (NRA) of gamma-rays as applied to in-vivo determination of body elemental content in humans. Special emphasis is given to the quantification of body protein via the measurement of total body nitrogen. A proposed facility for in-vivo determination of nitrogen using the NRA method is described. The advantages and disadvantages of each method are listed and discussed.