Project thumbnail image
College of Engineering Unit: 
Nuclear Science and Engineering
Project Team Member(s): 
Maija Linh Pham, Subisha Sundaram , Saeed Alrashdi, Mohammed Al-Fadala and Khalid Alruwaili
Physical Location at Expo: 
Community Plaza
Project ID: 
Project Description: 

Since the end of the Cold War, the contemporary ever-looming threat of a weaponized nuclear catastrophe has gone down in intensity amongst the public in the US, however, it persists nonetheless. In the event of an attack caused by an improvised nuclear device (IND), the US is not medically prepared to deal with the aftermath.

Keeping this pressing need in mind, this project focuses on the study of background radiation so that it can be used in early threat detection and illegal radioactive material detection, in addition to the controls in place by Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI). The Global Nuclear Detection Architecture (GNDA), which is coordinated by the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) under the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in coordination with several governmental organizations such as the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Coast Guard, and National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), place heavy emphasis on the detection and interdiction of smuggled nuclear materials. 

An effective early detection system, based on the principle of background radiation, will accurately detect and predict malicious use of such nuclear materials. 

Access to technology that can be weaponized has been more regulated over the case, but this cannot be assumed to be the same case all over the world, as different governments have varying degrees of regulation regarding nuclear and radioactive material. Countries are constantly working on improving technologies, along with regulations and policies, to control illegal acquisition, distribution, and use of radioactive material. 

Understanding radiation background is hence crucial to developing a real-time detection system for Improvised Nuclear Devices (IND). This radiation background can be different to different areas of the same region or city, based on nearby sources of radiation as well as weather conditions and occasional precipitation.

The project focuses on the study of background radiation so that it can be used in early threat detection and illegal radioactive material detection.Using contextual sensors, a broad area sensing array will be created and deployed within the Oregon State University Campus. Upon determining a “pattern of life,” algorithms will be created from the data in correspondence with precipitation and weather patterns.

Project Communication Piece(s): 
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