The GNS Science Isoscan team offers world-proven expertise in developing nuclear analytical technique based scanner solutions to companies looking for new methods for quality control and optimising industrial processes.
One example is our industrial scanner, LDS-200, which uses low-level gamma rays to measure each piece of timber’s green density. Wood with higher green density dries more slowly, so knowing the density allows for accurate predictions of drying time to avoid drying-related degradation such as over-drying and warping. More accurate sorting can speed kiln drying times and maximise kiln space, therefore increasing overall output and enabling the most efficient use of power.
Compared to the common practice of laborious monitoring and testing by hand, the gamma-ray scanner developed by GNS Science is non-destructive and can scan at an unmatched speed of up to 200 pieces of timer per minute. The ability to scan at production speed enables precise monitoring of the product at any stage of the process. An added advantage is its little operational wear and tear because the scanning is non-contact.
In Australia about 60 per cent of all structural timber is now scanned with our systems. Our systems also operate in North America. The benefits are quickly realised, with payback on the investment usually within six months.
Another world-first system that has also been successfully commercialised is our dual energy x-ray (DEXA) scanning system that measures the lean meat content of boxed meat, which is an important indicator of the commercial value of the meat product. In a DEXA scanning system, an x-ray image of the object is generated and subsequently analysed without interrupting the process flow within the factory, enabling nearly continuous scanning of several thousand meat boxes each day. DEXA scanners are helping to revolutionise quality control in the meat export industry, replacing conventional testing and evaluation methods that are often based on subjective impressions by individual evaluators. GNS Science DEXA scanners have been installed in meat processing plants in New Zealand, Australia, and North and South America.
We are also working on scanners to measure the colour and sugar content of fruit, allowing for instant and precise harvesting knowledge, and real wool content in fleece for raw wool quality control.
Ion beam functional surface coating
Our research laboratory applies ion-beam modification and deposition of materials to alter surface properties for enhanced performance of material, including improved durability, hardness, colour and anti-fouling properties, reduced friction, and tailored wettability. These desirable surface properties have a wide range of applications in industries such as energy, medicine, food processing, security and manufacturing.
One example is a silver coated titanium medical implant. The anti-microbial properties of silver are well known, and we were asked by one of our industry clients to coat a custom titanium implant with silver atoms that would reduce chances of post-operative infection. The coating or deposition process was conducted using our in-house built ion beam sputtering system, where an ion beam bombards the silver target with enough energy to penetrate the top half dozen atoms layers on the surface of the titanium joint implant. The silver coated implant not only has desired anti-microbial properties, it is also durable.
The Ion beam sputtering techniques we are experimenting with operate at different energies compared to other chemical and physical deposition methods. The higher energy deposition forms a mixed layer at the interface which can result in superior bonding. This opens up a whole set of possibilities to discover new surface properties and coating techniques that have never been explored.
Magnetic nano-particles for new generation magnetic sensors
Magnetic nano-particles consist of nanometre-sized clusters of magnetic atoms embedded in a wafer of silicon. Magnetic nano-particles have novel applications, including its application in magnetic sensors for non-destructive testing, security, navigation, current sensing and high specification sensors. Our research focus is developing processes to form nano-particles with precise control on the surface at a specific depth inside a material, and methods compatible with industrial processes currently used for fabrication of silicon-based devices.
Scientists at GNS Science use low energy ion implantation followed by electron beam annealing to develop techniques for fabricating nano-particles. In the process, ions of a material are accelerated and bombarded into target material, altering the physical and chemical properties of the target material. This method has good control, flexibility and speed; all elements of the Periodic Table can be implanted into any material with precise control of concentration and depth in a matter of minutes. The resulting products are of high purity and completely non-toxic.
Our researchers have developed methods for synthesising magnetic nano-particles that show promise for new generation magnetic sensors with application in non-contact measurement and wide-range magnetic field measurement.
For more information, please contact:
Joe Manning, Head of Department, Materials and Air, GNS Science