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Nuclear Cargo Detector

Stage: Development
Apparatus for the inspection of cargo containers for nuclear materials comprising one or more arrays of modules comprising grounded, closed conductive tubes filled with an ionizing gas mixture such as, but not limited to, Argon:CO.sub.2.

A wire is suspended along each tube axis and electrically connected at both ends of the tube. A positive, dc high voltage is supplied to one end of the wire and an amplifier is attached to the other end through a capacitance to decouple the amplifier from the high voltage. X-rays, gamma rays or neutrons produced by nuclear material and passing through the tube ionize the gas. The electrons from the gas ionization process are accelerated toward the wire surface due to the wire's electrical potential. The acceleration of the electrons near the wire's surface is sufficient to ionize more gas and produce an amplification of electrons/ions that create a surge of current large enough to be detectable by the amplifier. Means are also provided for a warning device coupled to the amplifier.