Californium-252 Solutions for the Military & Defense IndustryFrontier supports all branches of the US military and the Department of Homeland Security with californium-252 (Cf-252) neutron sources for portable isotopic neutron spectroscopy (PINS), and can supply international military and defense organizations with Cf-252 PINS sources as well.

We have provided the U.S. Army with Californium neutron sources and support for 20 years, and we continue to invest in PINS system product improvements. Each of our systems is developed and manufactured to meet our customers’ needs under CMADOE, INL, and NSCMP regulatory standards. Contact us today to learn more about our californium-252 solutions for PINS or other military and defense applications.

Frontier's Californium Neutron Sources Support Military & Defense Functions

Californium-252’s exceptional neutron emitting properties make it invaluable for defense and homeland security applications that require a safe, highly analytical method of evaluating an environment or object. Their tiny size and high yield per unit mass make it possible for Cf-252 neutron sources to be constructed in a variety of configurations designed to address the shape, size, and other requirements of nearly any application.

At Frontier, we are world leaders in Cf-252 neutron source design and manufacturing and have supplied Cf-252 neutron sources to military and defense customers for over two decades.

We offer single- and double-encapsulated nuclear containers with the ability to construct handling rods, pigtails, cables, lanyards, and more to integrate with PINS systems. We also offer custom nuclear product research and design services. With a commitment to continually improving our performance and quality, we ensure that all our products adhere to industry standards set by ODH, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, ISO 2919, ASTM, and ANSI.

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Portable Isotopic Neutron Spectroscopy (PINS) for Military & Defence

PINS is used extensively by the National Guard, Homeland Security, United States Armed Forces, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The PINS system is accurate and safe to nearby operators and emergency personnel. As another benefit, it’s also fast: the analysis can be completed in as little as 100 seconds. More sophisticated analyses take only 1,000 seconds, or fewer than 20 minutes, to complete.

PINS systems are highly portable, and come in various configurations including handheld models. This makes them easy to carry and use in the field, which eliminates the need to handle or transport materials to a lab or other facility for analysis.

Cf-252 is used in PINS systems to safely determine the composition of material samples or containers and identify materials or devices that are dangerous or potentially life-threatening. PINS systems can identify a range of hazards including artillery and mortar projectiles, rockets, bombs, land mines, gas cylinders, IEDs, and chemical weapons.

PINS To Identify Bombs, Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) & Weapons

The system operates by using a Cf-252 neutron source to deeply penetrate a suspicious container or material with neutrons. As these neutrons bombard the object, the elemental composition within emits a unique gamma-ray signature. This signature gives insight into the contents of the object in a non-destructive way that does not put nearby personnel at risk. Appropriate measures can then be taken to destroy or disarm the device safely while limiting personnel exposure to hazardous materials or explosives.

PINS tests can analyze the following items, for example:

  • Artillery projectiles: 75 to 175-mm
  • Bombs: “weteye,” MC-1, M-70, M-79, and cluster bombs
  • Mortar projectiles: 3-, 4-, and 4.2-inch stokes
  • Rockets: M-55 rockets, inside S/F tubes and overpacks
  • Other weapons such as land mines and livens projector shells or items such as gas cylinders and DOT 500X ton containers.

PINS To Identify Hazardous Materials & Chemicals

Due to PINS systems’ ability to detect a wide variety of explosives, hazardous chemicals, nerve agents, and blister agents—including sarin gas and mustard gas—the implementation of the technology is rapidly growing among military personnel.

The system was developed by Dr. Gus Caffrey of the Idaho National Laboratory in 1992 to evaluate chemicals inside chemical warfare weapons. Since then, PINS has grown in use as it is not a highly destructive system, and it can provide reliable results in the field.

Throughout its usage, the PINS system technology has led to the successful detection of over 13,000 chemical agent identification sets (CAIS) and the destruction of 73,174 items of chemical warfare.

Homeland Security Applications

The US Department of Homeland Security uses PINS systems for border protection, customs, and National Guard operations in areas where suspicious packages, containers, or objects are found. These systems reduce the risk to personnel and the public by identifying hazards or weapons in situ without the need to open or handle them. Read more about the use of Cf-252 sources in PINS systems here.

How The PINS System Works

Californium’s strong neutron emission makes it ideal for penetration-based analysis since the neutrons can easily and deeply pass through target materials. Not only can the neutrons provide analysis of complex items down to their individual components, but it can also evaluate large or protected items. It does this by measuring and analyzing the gamma-ray signature that every component in a targeted item returns after being hit by neutron bursts.

Different materials give off different signatures, and the analysis equipment can break down those signatures, compare them against a known database, and identify the materials associated with each signature. Military and defense entities use Cf-252 in detection equipment, like bulk analyzers, to scan potential threats and cargo loads.


Using Cf-252 in PINS Systems

Because manufacturers produce Cf-252 through synthetic means, they can also customize the design of the element to meet military and defense clients’ specifications best. Californium suppliers can tailor californium packaging to unique size needs. A supplier can also outfit these neutron sources with various shielding materials, layers or degrees of protection, and other unique configurations that best fit the intended application.

In short: californium-252 is ideal for military applications due to its inherently strong nuclear nature, as well as the ability to custom-build sources with protective containers that keep surrounding personnel, equipment, and environments safe from exposure risks.


Contact Frontier to Learn More About Cf-252 and PINS Systems

Frontier Technology Corporation is a leading provider of californium-252 neutron source manufacturing. We offer high-quality neutron sources for PINS systems, as well as Type-A shipping containers and WEP shielding to keep the material contained during transportation and storage. To learn more about how californium-252 neutron sources are used by the military and homeland security, or for more information about our services or capabilities, reach out to us today.


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About Frontier Technology Corporation

Frontier Technology Corporation (FTC) is the world leader in californium-252 neutron source manufacturing and design, and is the foremost expert in logistics and shipping of radioactive material. Founded in 1984 by Treva Janzow and the late Edward Janzow, Frontier Technology is located in Xenia, Ohio. Frontier Technology has over 40 years industry experience in providing the highest-quality neutron sources, PINS sources, nuclear start-up rods, TYPE-A shipping containers, WEP shielding, and antimony-beryllium pellets.