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Landmine detection in arid soil using the neutron backscattering technique
HYDAD is a HYdrogen Density Anomaly Detector based in neutron backscattering  (i.e., detection of thermalized neutrons) developed in South Africa at iThemba LABS [1]. A HYDAD-D was built at the Chilean Nuclear Energy Commission (CCHEN) guided by the South African developers, aimed to detecting landmines in arid soils. The device was tested under controlled conditions in dry soil equivalent to the mine fields of the frontier zones of the north of Chile. The tests were carried out in Arica, in collaboration with the Chilean Army, using antipersonnel landmines, antitank landmines and objects with a high Hydrogen content (e.g, water vessel, paraffin wax). The test results demonstrated that HYDAD-D can detect antipersonnel landmines as small as the M14 (mass 100 g, including only 29 g of TNT in a plastic container), in dry sand, at typical landmines bury-depths (less than 5 cm).

In addition  portable PF device (PF-2J) is being developed to replacement of a conventional radioactive source in the HYDAD device. 

This device PF-2J was designed for operation with few kilovolts (10kV or less) with a stored energy of 2J and a repetition rate of 10Hz without external cooling. The size of the device is of the order of 20x20x10cm3. The weight is less than 3kg. A neutron flux of the order of 104-105 n/s is expected. Electrical characterization for discharges in hydrogen was developed. Evidence of pinch was obtained in the current derivative dI/dt and current I signals. Also the dependence of the time to pinch over the filling pressure (α √p0 )   was observed. Therefore, the device is working as plasma focus. 

The basic development of the HYDAD in Chile was supported by TC-IAEA, and the tests were supported by Bicentennial Program in Science and Technology by grant ACT 26, Center for Research and Applications in Plasma Physics and Pulsed Power Technology, P4, Defense Minestry and Chilean Army.

[1] F. D. Brooks, M. Drogs, Appl. Rad. Isot. 63, 565 (2005)


Award for best poster VIII Latin American Symposium on Nuclear Physics and Applications, 2009.