Compact Thermal Neutron Imaging System Using Axisymmetric Focusing Mirrors

UAH-P-13008-Compact Thermal Neutron Imaging System Using Axisymmetric Focusing Mirrors

Docket: UAH-P-13008


Thermal neutron imaging is a powerful method of studying man-made or natural materials and structures. Unfortunately, high-resolution neutron imaging commonly requires high-flux reactors, which are not easily accessible, and many neutron instruments are limited by the availability of neutron fluxes. The challenge for progress in neutron optics and instrumentation is the development of efficient neutron optical components, such as the commonly used mirrors and lenses.

Researchers at UAH, MIT, and NASA have jointly developed an apparatus and method for collecting and directing neutrons as well as a method for forming the mirrors used. The neutron apparatus uses nested, axisymmetric mirror layers to coordinate neutrons toward a target. Neutrons reflected by the inner mirror layer are incident on the inner mirror layer, and the same holds true for the outer mirror layer.

The mirrors are created by applying a neutron-reflective material onto a substrate using alternating electrical currents.


  • Structural inspections
  • Manufacturing processes
  • Medical imaging
  • Homeland security


  • More-effective neutron instruments
  • Higher resolution images
  • Addresses certain limitations of compact neutron sources, i.e. available neutron flux


  • State of Development: Proof of concept
  • Licensing Status: Available for licensing
  • Patent Status: Patented