• Opening Times: Mon - Fri 7:45 to 16:30
R104 Pelindaba Brits Magisterial District

PLABS

Research Programs:

  1. Fast Neutron Imaging

  2. We are developing a fast neutron radiography facility to conduct non-destructive testing, where the radiography can be used to determine the contents of samples, on an elemental level, and thus identify their composition without destroying the sample. Through rotation of the sample, tomographic imaging with elemental information displayed will also be possible.

    The direct application of this will be in the field of Heritage studies, where the full elemental composition of fossilised samples can be obtained (without destruction which is of long term benefit to this field), and this can help one understand the history and evolution of the samples. Another application can assist in the modelling toward human evolution which enables scientists to better understand and advance medical techniques.

  3. Materials Studies.  

  4. We aim to fulfil the important role within the nuclear industry of testing the radiation hardness of nuclear and other related materials used within radioactive environments. To do this, we investigate the effects that different forms of radiation (i.e. neutrons, charged particles, and photons) have on materials. This we do by bombarding the materials with the different radiation forms from an accelerator. These tests serve as a crucial step in material qualification for use within environments with high radiation fields such as nuclear reactors, and accelerators. The samples are characterised pre and post irradiation in order to quantify the extent of damage. We also offer accelerator based materials characterization known as ion beam analysis (IBA) and it includes such techniques as Rutherford Backscattering Spectroscopy (RBS), Nuclear Reaction Analysis (NRA) and Proton Induced X-ray emission (PIXE). These techniques enable us to determine the elemental composition and distribution within materials.

Services

Fast Neutron sources

We provide access to beams of fast neutrons resulting from the X(d,n) and X(p,n) reactions. Target elements can be tailored to suit experimental needs and the required neutron energy range.

Irradiation Studies

We radiate samples and determine the effect of this on their characteristics (elasticity, conductivity, tensile strength).

Capabilities:

  1. Fast neutron sources
  2. RBS

Achievements:

  1. IAEA Success: The very first application of Fast Neutron Radiography in cultural heritage samples in South Africa under CRP F12024 .

South-Africa is extending its scientific capacities by applying Fast Neutron Radiography (FNR) and Fast Neutron Tomography (FNT) techniques for Cultural Heritage investigations for the very first time. Initial experiments were done at PLABS. This is the very first application for FNR in cultural heritage samples in South Africa. The results show a radiograph after the fast neutrons penetrated the sample and the frontal and maxillary sinus cavities are seen: the shapes of these are of high importance in the evolutionary studies of humans.