Top Science of 2013
Portable laser tool to thwart nuclear smugglers
Researchers demonstrated for the first time that laser-generated neutrons can detect concealed nuclear material, and that the tool can be small.
Using a super-fast yet powerful short-pulse laser called TRIDENT, we focused neutrons onto a miniscule spot. When neutrons encounter nuclear material, they cause measurable fission, alerting guards that bomb-making material is present. A tabletop device could protect borders and crowded ports.