Richard A. Craig, Ph.D., 2001 Christopher Columbus Foundation Award

Written by on June 10, 2001 in 2001, Christopher Columbus Foundation Award, Researcher

Richard Craig

Richard A. Craig, Ph.D.

Staff Scientist
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Richland, WA

Timed Neutron Detection (TND) of Land Mines

Dr. Richard A. Craig was the recipient of the 2001 $100,000 Christopher Columbus Foundation Award. Dr. Craig and his team have developed the Timed Neutron Detection (TND) of Land Mines. The detector looks like a metal detector, however, it applies neutron physics to locate a land mine. The system detects hydrogen, which is present in casing and explosives found in plastic or metal land mines, and that element’s interactions with neutrons. This technology allows mines containing little or no metal to be found.

The TND consists of a neutron source–about the size of a personal pager–built into a detector and used much like a metal detector, as it is held by a person and sweeps over the ground. The portable, lightweight detector can scan a 100-square foot area at a walking pace. The operator would be exposed to about the same nuclear radiation in one day as that received during a dental X-ray.

Dr. Craig and his team targeted hydrogen, as it removes more energy from neutrons than do other elements, making the change in energy easier to identify. Also, hydrogen is a common element in both metal and plastic mines.

The United Nation’s Landmine Database estimates “at present rates it would take 1,100 years to clear the world’s existing inventory of 110 million landmines hidden in soils of nearly 70 countries.” It is also estimated that mines are being added at a rate 20 times higher than the rate they are being located and neutralized. It is estimated about 26,000 people, a third of them children, are killed or maimed each year.

The most valuable land within a nation is often mined, forcing civilians to risk their lives while trying to make a living. UNICEF estimates that in the nine most-contaminated countries-Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Croatia, Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan, Angola, Iran and Rwanda, there are more that 1.3 billion acres which are unusable because of buried land mines.

Dr. Craig estimates his device can be mass-produced for about $5,000, which is a small price to pay in the ultimate saving of lives and land.

Evaluation Committee
The Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation is honored to have had the assistance of the following distinguished individuals serving on the Christopher Columbus Foundation Award Evaluation Committee:

Captain Jon A. McBride, (USN, Retired), Cambridge Associates,
Ltd., Charleston, WV
Richard L. Young, Builder and Pilot of Wright Brothers Aircraft
Replica, Richmond, VA

John A. Kleppe, Ph.D., Chair, Electrical Engineering, University of
Nevada, Reno, NV
Jacob Mendelssohn, Ph.D., Technology Services Institute, West
Hartford, CT
Neill S. Smith, Ph.D., Senior Engineer, Vehicle Control
Technologies, Inc., Reston, VA

Alan Heeger, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Physics, University of California at Santa Barbara, CA
John Recker, Research Scientist, Hewlett Packard, Palo Alto, CA
Stewart A. Wolf, Ph.D., Program Manager, DARPA/DSO and Senior
Scientist, Naval Research Lab, Arlington, VA

David Arland, Director, Government and Public Relations, Thomson
Multimedia, Indianapolis, IN
Howard Lester, Ph.D., Administrative Chair, Department of Film and
Animation, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY
Jack McNamara, Imation Enterprises, Oakdale, MN

Robert N. Brower, Director, Regional Applications Center for the
Northeast, NASA, Auburn, NY
Norine E. Noonan, Ph.D., former Assistant Administrator, Research
and Development, Environmental Protection Agency, Vienna, VA
William Rutherford, Forest Park Foundation, Peoria, IL

Marek Elbaum, M.D., President, Electro-Optical Sciences, Irvington,
NY (Dr. Elbaum received the 1998 Christopher Columbus Foundation
Michael Gottesman, M.D., Deputy Director, Intermural Research,
National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD
James D. Otvos, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer & Founder, LipoMed,
Raleigh, NC (Dr. Otvos received the 1999 Christopher Columbus
Foundation Award)

G. Andrew Lang, President, Blue Dot Rental Services,
Bridgeport, WV
Joe Lorio – Senior Editor, Automobile Magazine, Ann Arbor, MI


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