At Frontier Technology Corporation (FTC), we are a worldwide supplier of californium-252 (Cf-252) neutron sources. With over 40 years of expertise working with clients across a spectrum of industries, we have the knowledge and experience needed to provide reliable, high-strength neutron sources to customers.
One of our core industries served is military and defense. Below, we provide an overview of Cf-252 and how it is used in military and defense applications.
A Quick Overview of Californium-252 Neutron Sources
Californium-252 is an extremely strong neutron emitter, with one microgram releasing 170 million neutrons every minute. Because of this, Cf-252 has been used as a neutron source in a variety of neutron-based systems since its discovery in 1950. The stability of its neutron emissions makes it an especially reliable means of initiating nuclear fission reactions.
At Frontier Technology Corporation, we produce customer-tailored Cf-252 sources to the most rigorous industry standards, ensuring the reliability of our products and the safety of our customers. Each source is double-encapsulated, which consists of an inner and outer capsule made from 304L stainless steel or Zircaloy-2 using advanced welding techniques.
Californium-252 in Portable Isotopic Neutron Spectroscopy (PINS) Systems
In the military and defense industry, californium-252 is typically used within portable isotopic neutron spectroscopy (PINS) systems, a technology used to determine the composition of a sample and identify if it is hazardous. PINS systems allow military and defense personnel to detect the presence of explosives or chemical agents in a non-destructive way, without ever having to open sealed containers and potentially setting off the device/compound in question. Using neutron sources to evaluate the sample ensures the safety of response teams and avoids a potentially life-threatening situation.
Portable isotopic neutron spectroscopy technology uses californium-252 to bombard and saturate the sample with neutrons. Upon neutron bombardment, the material in the container releases unique gamma-ray signatures, which are then analyzed by PINS software to identify the composition of the contents. Materials and devices that can be identified by PINS systems include artillery and mortar projectiles, rockets, bombs, land mines, and gas cylinders.
PINS systems are highly portable. Some variations feature a handheld design, which makes them even easier to carry and use in the field. Not only are they easy to transport, but they can also provide information on-site without having to transfer contents to a laboratory or other facility for analysis.
Additional Californium-252 Resources
If you are interested in learning more about californium-252 and its many applications, check out the following resources we have available:
- A Complete Guide to Californium: a great foundational overview of this extraordinary neutron source
- Californium-252 FAQs: answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about Cf-252
- Type-A Radioactive Shipping Containers: information on the containers used to store and transport Cf-252
- eBook Library: our various downloadable guides covering topics related to californium-252
Choose FTC for Your Military & Defense Application Requirements
With more than 40 years of experience in the design and development of californium-252 neutron sources, we specialize in custom neutron sources that meet the specifications and standards of even the most critical specifications. By partnering with FTC for their Cf-252 needs, our customers benefit from our:
- Custom capabilities. We provide our customers with a wide variety of options for the size and inner/outer capsule specifications. Customers are able to choose from 32 standard source lengths and various combinations of inner/outer capsule materials. Check out more information about our sources here.
- Custom shielding walls. Our neutron sources feature custom shielding walls made from a proprietary water-extended polyester (WEP) inner material and stainless steel outer material. The unique combination ensures safety during the transportation and use of the neutron source.
- Fee-free return source program. Once a neutron source is depleted, we take it back free of charge (shipping and handling costs are the responsibility of the customer).
You can also find additional information about the use of Cf-252 sources in PINS systems in our blog post, “Detecting & Defeating IEDs With Californium-252 and the PINS System”.