Physics Division

Pioneering proton radiography

Invented at Los Alamos National Laboratory, proton radiography employs a high-energy proton beam to image the properties and behavior of materials driven by high explosives.

The penetrating power of high-energy protons, like that of x-rays, makes them an excellent probe of a wide range of materials under extreme pressures, strains, and strain rates. The charge of the particles both affects scattering in interesting ways but allows them to be imaged with magnetic optics that gives them unique advantages for penetrating radiography. The incredible efficacy and versatility of proton radiography also stems from the ability to produce multiple proton pulses in an accelerator coupled with multiple optical viewing systems that can result in 20-40 frame movies.

The invention of imaging proton radiography (pRad) is the direct result of the synergy between the Laboratory’s defense mission and basic science research scientists and supports the Laboratory’s national security science mission as well as provides for fundamental science discoveries.

A user program provides experimenters the opportunity to work at the 800-MeV Los Alamos Proton Radiography facility at the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center. The facility can handle both unclassified and classified experiments. There is a yearly call for proposals for experiments.


goal 1

Rayleigh-Taylor perturbation growth in copper samples tested with identical drive conditions and initial perturbation but different microstructure. The perturbation growth rate and shape depend strongly on microstructure.  Accurate predictive process aware material models will need to be developed to account for these differences.

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