DARPA GRIT Program Webinar Set for July 8

The Gamma Ray Inspection Technology program seeks novel approaches to achieve high-intensity, tunable, narrow-bandwidth sources of gamma ray radiation. These would be useful for a wide range of national security, industrial, and medical applications.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, DARPA, recently announced its Gamma Ray Inspection Technology (GRIT) program, which seeks novel approaches to achieve high-intensity, tunable, narrow-bandwidth sources of gamma ray radiation in a compact, transportable form factor. These would be useful for a wide range of national security, industrial, and medical applications, according to the agency. DARPA will host a Proposers Day webinar starting at 2 p.m. on July 8.

X-rays and gamma rays can be used to scan suspicious maritime shipping containers for illicit materials, for industrial inspection of materials and processes, and for diagnostic and therapeutic procedures in medicine. But current technologies are not ideal, DARPA points out, noting that X-rays produce a continuum of energies that limit their inspection and diagnostic performance and gamma rays can only be produced at specific energies unique to a given radioactive isotope.

"What we're trying to do in GRIT is transform the use of x-rays and gamma rays," explained Mark Wrobel, program manager in DARPA's Defense Sciences Office. "Current sources of gamma rays, like Cobalt-60 or Cesium-137, are not very flexible. They require special licenses to possess and only emit gamma rays at very specific energies. What we desire is a source of very high-energy photons that we can tune to match the application we need. This ranges from more effective detection of illicit cargo to a more informative medical x-ray."

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