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Muons: probing the depths of nuclear waste

Muons: probing the depths of nuclear waste,  physicsworld, 12 Dec 2019

Taken from the December 2019 issue of Physics World. Members of the Institute of Physics can enjoy the full issue via the Physics World app.

Having used them to look through rock, physicists are now exploiting muons to peer inside canisters of radioactive waste. The ability could prove very handy for nuclear inspectors, as Edwin Cartlidge reports

……muons – energetic subatomic particles that can pass through thick layers of dense material and which the scientists in Egypt used to look inside the limestone and granite pyramid.

Muons are generated routinely in particle colliders, where physicists use them to identify other, potentially more exotic, particles within the debris. But they are also produced naturally in the atmosphere, and an ever-growing range of researchers are using these commonly occurring muons as highly penetrating probes. Beyond archaeologists, geologists, for example, are developing muon detectors to establish when magma might be on the rise within a volcano……..

Muons offer a way to establish how much waste there is in a container without having to open or move the container in question. That capability would become vital, according to Matt Durham of Los Alamos National Laboratory in the US, should inspectors or the countries involved ever lose confidence in their monitoring. “This issue is only getting worse as more plutonium piles up around the world,” he says.

Muons offer a way to establish how much waste there is in a container without having to open or move the container in question……… https://physicsworld.com/a/muons-probing-the-depths-of-nuclear-waste/

December 14, 2019 - Posted by | technology, USA

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