3 months ago
Los Alamos National Laboratory has announced an impending partnership with Toshiba Corporation to use a Los Alamos technique called muon tomography to safely peer inside the cores of the Fukushima Daiichi reactors and create high-resolution images of the damaged nuclear material inside without ever breaching the cores themselves. The initiative could reduce the time required to clean up the disabled complex by at least a decade and greatly reduce radiation exposure to personnel working at the plant. Muon radiography (also called cosmic-ray radiography) uses secondary particles generated when cosmic rays collide with upper regions of Earth's atmosphere to create images of the objects that the particles, called muons, penetrate. The process is analogous to an X-ray image, except muons are produced naturally and do not damage the materials they contact. Muon radiography has been used before in imaginative applications such as mapping the interior of the Great Pyramid at Giza, but Los Alamos's muon tomography technique represents a vast improvement over earlier technology.