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Neutron Imaging: A Non-Destructive Tool for Materials Testing
IAEA, Report of a coordinated research project 2003–2006, Vienna, 2008

Neutron radiography is a powerful tool for non-destructive testing of materials for industrial
applications and research. The neutron beams from research reactors and spallation neutron
sources have been extensively and successfully used for neutron radiography over the last few
decades. The special features of neutron interaction with matter make it possible to inspect
bulk of specimen and to produce images of components containing light elements such as
hydrogen beneath a matrix of metallic elements, like lead or bismuth. The technique is
complementary to X ray and gamma ray radiography and finds applications in diverse areas
such as the examination of nuclear fuels and the detection of explosives.
The neutron source properties, the collimator design and the fast and efficient detection
system decide the performance of a neutron radiography facility. Research and development
in these areas becomes essential for improving the output. Detection systems have taken a big
jump from conventional photographic film to digital real-time imaging. The use of fast and
epithermal neutrons as sources and the exploitation of more specialized neutron interactions,
like resonance absorption and phase shifts, has further opened up the field of neutron imaging
for research and development. Application of new types of radiation detectors and improved
signal processing techniques with an increase in the efficiency and resolution will be
beneficial for low intensity neutron sources.
Although neutron radiography is used in many research reactor centres, only a few are well
developed and have state-of-the-art facilities, while the remainder still continue to use low
end technology such as the film based detection system.
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