The detectors that are commonly used at airports return only block images of objects. Such scanners only count the number of X-ray photons passing through the material and do not register the changes in energy of the X-rays.

Hence, an X-ray of a suitcase containing plutonium, lead and iron would show an image that would not discriminate between the three materials.

According to sources, Andrew Gilbert, a nuclear engineer at the University of Texas in Austin has said that the basic idea to use currently available technologies, spectral X-ray detectors, to get more use out of the information that is available.

In contrast, the new technology, i.e. spectral radiography, relies on the detection of photons at multiple energy levels once they have travelled through a material.
As per sources, the spectral radiograph would show different materials and highlight those with energy ranges specific to potentially hazardous objects.


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