Scientists from the University of New Hampshire recently collaborated with industry experts from the Michigan Aerospace Corporation in an attempt to turn years of laboratory findings into a rugged new instrument that could soon assume a role in national security.
UNH's Space Science Center has focused the bulk of its work on detecting and observing neutrons and gamma rays outside the earth's atmosphere. However, the school's newest industrial partner has suggested that the research may be better applied to purposes that are far closer to home.
The Michigan Aerospace Corporation recognized a unique parallel between space research and homeland security when it comes to the detection of radioactive materials. Specifically, the academic innovations could be leveraged to detect so-called "dirty bombs," or even full-scale nuclear devices, being trafficked through shipping ports and trucks stops.
The UNH patent management team has since filed three applications related to its latest invention, the Portable Neutron Spectroscope (NSPECT). The device represents the culmination of nearly 40 years of research conducted on behalf of NASA and others, but without the help of the industrial corporation's foresight and vast commercial resources, the promising gadget may never have even reached the prototype stage.