Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Andrew Hirsch

Committee Chair

Andrew Hirsch

Committee Member 1

Marc Caffee

Committee Member 2

Chan Choi

Committee Member 3

Jorge Rodriguez


In this dissertation, the design of a system to detect improvised explosive devices is considered. The technique utilized is thermal neutron analysis. In this method, thermal neutrons are used to interrogate a volume for the presence of nitrogen, which is used as an indicator of explosive, given its unusual high energy line in the gamma ray spectrum generated by thermal capture reactions on explosive material. The performance of the system is then considered for a number of devices used to represent an improvised explosive device, including a 155 mm shell, an antitank mine, and a air to surface bomb. The system is shown to be capable of detecting IEDs within between 15.6 and 3800 seconds for HPGe detectors, and within 277 seconds for the best case scenario with NaI while more deeply buried explosives are shown to be undetectable by NaI.

Included in

Nuclear Commons