Brief Communication | Published:


Radiographic imaging with cosmic-ray muons

Nature volume 422, page 277 (20 March 2003) | Download Citation



Despite its enormous success, X-ray radiography1 has its limitations: an inability to penetrate dense objects, the need for multiple projections to resolve three-dimensional structure, and health risks from radiation. Here we show that natural background muons, which are generated by cosmic rays and are highly penetrating, can be used for radiographic imaging of medium-to-large, dense objects, without these limitations and with a reasonably short exposure time. This inexpensive and harmless technique may offer a useful alternative for detecting dense materials — for example, a block of uranium concealed inside a truck full of sheep.

Natural background particles could be exploited to detect concealed nuclear materials.

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Author information


  1. Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico 87545, USA

    • Konstantin N. Borozdin
    • , Gary E. Hogan
    • , Christopher Morris
    • , William C. Priedhorsky
    • , Alexander Saunders
    • , Larry J. Schultz
    •  & Margaret E. Teasdale


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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Correspondence to Konstantin N. Borozdin.

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