Due to the high penetration of neutrons through many metals and their uniquely high contrast to certain low-Z isotopes such as 1H, 3He, 6Li, and 10B, neutron imaging has been applied to many fields of study including:
Historically, commercial neutron imaging services have been focused on nondestructive testing of aerospace and defense components, while R&D applications have primarily been the purview of university reactors and large government-operated user facilities.
User facilities can offer high neutron flux at a price that ranges from free for general users to cost-recovery basis for proprietary users, but these come with many drawbacks. General user beam time is offered via competitive scientific proposals, with most neutron imaging instruments oversubscribed by a factor of 2-4. These facilities are also frequently subject to planned shutdowns for upgrades and maintenance and unplanned shutdowns due to fuel element failures or other equipment malfunctions. These factors can cause the lead time for neutron imaging to range from months to years. Open user facilities are also generally not equipped to handle export-controlled samples, adhere to aerospace quality management standards, or handle significant quantities of explosive or other energetic materials.
Phoenix is bridging this gap by offering R&D customers access to thermal and fast neutrons at our accelerator-based neutron facility that is grounded and focused on quality, customer service, ease-of-use, and flexible operations to bring neutron testing to the commercial market.
In addition to a “typical” experiment where customers bring samples and we provide neutron imaging, radiation effects, or PGAA services, Phoenix also offers neutron beams to customers interested in testing their own equipment such as neutron imaging detectors, scintillators, and PGAA gamma ray spectrometers.