X-Scan--Giving highway departments "X-ray vision"
LPP is developing a portable, economical, extremely intense hard X-ray source using a dense plasma focus (DPF). Such a source, transportable by truck, will allow economical non-destructive inspection of the nation’s critical infrastructure, leading to savings in repair costs of at least five billion dollars annually.
A source with the power, photon energy and adjustability developed in this project will allow the use of Compton scattering, in which the X-rays are scattered off the material being probed and return to a detector on the same side of the object as the source. Compton scattering requires far higher X-ray power than does direct X-ray scanning, in which the detector is on the opposite side of the structure from the source, but has the great advantage that scanning can be done from one side. Such one-side scanning will greatly reduce the cost and time of inspections, making possible the timely preventive maintenance of infrastructure such as bridges, roads and buildings.
The X-ray source technology is being developed as a "spin-off" of our medium-term research into the use of the DPF as a source for fusion energy. Essentially the same technology can produce both useful energy and extremely intense X-ray pulses.
In February 2011, LPP achieved a major milestone by measuring sufficient X-ray energy to show that our X-Scan product is technically feasible.