Seeing past the ordinary

Taken from the April 2019 issue of Physics World. Members of the Institute of Physics can enjoy the full issue via the Physics World app.

Margaret Harris catches up with founder Ralf Kaiser and director David Mahon of Lynkeos Technology, a company that develops muon tomography systems for applications in the nuclear industry and beyond

Muons – elementary particles produced via high-energy cosmic ray showers in the atmosphere – make up much of the cosmic radiation that reaches the Earth’s surface. At sea level, every square metre receives some 100 muons per second, and the muons’ high energies mean that they pass easily through material that would stop some other particles, such as electrons.

For physicist Ralf Kaiser, these heavy-hitting particles sparked the idea for an imaging innovation. In 2016 he founded Lynkeos Technology, a start-up that develops 3D-imaging systems that use muons to “see” inside complex, shielded structures, such as drums containing nuclear waste. I visited Ralf Kaiser and his colleague David Mahon in their Glasgow lab to learn more about how they set up their company.

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