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Fast neutron radiography and tomography of wood

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Wood is the material that has accompanied the whole development of mankind in various applications, for manufacturing tools and weapons, for buildings and constructions and also as fuel. It has various appearances and is subjected to decomposing changes, so there are sufficient arguments for non-destructive testing of wooden objects in the same way as is common practice with other technologically used materials. However, even today wood is rarely tested. Moreover, artefacts of cultural heritage containing wood are rare and delicate, so dismantling these for studying purposes is undesirable. Radiological inspection technologies are the methods of choice to provide a non-destructive insight. Interrogations of a specimen with various kinds of radiation provide different answers about their internal structures. High-quality detailed images are achievable with X-rays or gamma radiation in cases where heavy metals or other dense materials are not involved. Neutrons behave complementarily; they are avidly absorbed by light elements such as hydrogen on the one hand and yet are capable of easily penetrating heavy metals on the other. This provides an alternative for X-ray radiography and tomography when material characteristics are of primary interest rather than structural details, or when shielding with plates or sleeves of heavy metal severely impedes inspections with X-ray or gamma radiation technologies. However, due to the moderating effect of wooden samples it is essential to use fast neutrons for radiography and tomography of voluminous objects. Some typical examples described here will show the difference between neutron and X-ray photon-based radiographic technologies.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1 Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM), Berlin, Germany., Tel: +49 30 8104 36 54, Fax: +49 30 8104 18 37

Publication date: 2008-06-01

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