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Analysis by neutron resonant capture imaging and other emerging neutron techniques: new cultural heritage and archaeological research methods

Objective

A large variety of chemical, physical and microstructural techniques are employed to characterize objects of cultural significance. Most of these methods are invasive and probes like X-rays and charged particles have limited penetration power in matter. Neutrons, on the other hand, can penetrate thick layers without substantial scattering or absorption. While the potential of neutron-based techniques is large, their development is recent in most cases. Especially, no attempt has been made to use the unique resonance absorption properties of epithermal neutrons for the quantitative 3D imaging of complex objects.

Many elements have neutron absorption resonances in the epithermal energy range. Neutron absorption is followed by the prompt emission of a gamma-ray cascade, which can be readily measured. Spatially resolved information can in principle be obtained by a combination of tight neutron beam collimation, multiple positioning of sample and gamma detectors, and detection of neutron resonances with different strengths and therefore able to effectively probe depth. Developing the "Neutron Resonant Capture Imaging" (NRCI) as a non-invasive quantitative technique for 3D imaging and its use in cultural heritage projects is the ultimate aim of the ANCIENT CHARM project.

The idea of developing an imaging technique based on epithermal neutron absorption is totally new and presents a number of scientific and technical challenges which are best addressed by building on recent experience obtained by other neutron-based techniques for cultural heritage analysis, i.e., Neutron Resonant Capture Analysis (NRCA), Prompt Gamma Activation Analysis (PGAA), Neutron Diffraction (ND) and Neutron Tomography (NT). These non-destructive analysis methods provide some of the underlying technologies and cultural prerequisites for the development of NRCI and will be combined with NRCI to provide a comprehensive neutron-based imaging method for cultural heritage research.

Call for proposal

FP6-2003-NEST-B-3
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Funding Scheme

STREP - Specific Targeted Research Project

Coordinator

UNIVERSITÀ DEGLI STUDI DI MILANO - BICOCCA
Address
Piazza Dell'ateneo Nuovo 1
Milano
Italy

Participants (10)

COMMISSION OF THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES DIRECTORATE-GENERAL JOINT RESEARCH CENTRE
Belgium
Address
Rue De La Loi 200
Brussels
HUNGARIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM
Hungary
Address
Múzeum Krt. 14-16
Budapest
INSTITUTE OF ISOTOPES HUNGARIAN ACADEMY OF SCIENCES
Hungary
Address
Konkoly Thege M. U 29-33
Budapest
RHEINISCHE FRIEDRICH-WILHELMS UNIVERSITÄT
Germany
Address
Regina-pacis-weg 3
Bonn
TECHNISCHE UNIVERSITEIT DELFT
Netherlands
Address
Julianalaan 134
Delft
THE CENTRAL LABORATORY OF THE RESEARCH COUNCILS
United Kingdom
Address
Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
Chilton, Didcot
THE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY FACILITIES COUNCIL
United Kingdom
Address
Polaris House, North Star Avenue
Swindon
UNIVERSITA' DEGLI STUDI DI ROMA TOR VERGATA
Italy
Address
Via O. Raimondo 18
Roma
UNIVERSITEIT LEIDEN
Netherlands
Address
Rapenburg 70
Leiden
UNIVERSITÄT ZU KÖLN
Germany
Address
Albertus-magnus-platz
Köln