MIT scientists build bomb test to ensure nuclear disarmament compliance


(UPI) – Engineers at MIT have developed a new nuclear warhead verification test using neutron beams. The new technology could help weapons inspectors do their job.

The method utilizes a neutron beam. For their test, researchers sent the beam horizontally through a warhead proxy. After passing through the target, the beam passes through a lithium filter, which works to scramble the information embedded in the altered beam. Finally, the beam is sent to a glass detector, which captures the data recorded by the beam.

The data can be analyzed to confirm the beam passed through an actual warhead. For the test, scientists used molybdenum and tungsten for their warhead proxy. The two metals are similar to plutonium.

The test can identify the specific isotope of the target element, which could allow inspectors to confirm the identity of a warhead before it’s disassembled.

At the same time, the physical data scrambling built into the test method allows specific details about the makeup of the weapon — engineering secrets — to remain undetected.

The test could also help inspectors compare the makeup of one nuclear warhead to others, allowing them to confirm that a stockpile of warheads for disarmament are all authentic weapons — not one real weapon and a bunch of counterfeits.

Moving forward, the researchers said they will work to develop a portable version of their technology to be tested at actual weapons sites.

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