Silicon Valley startup announces ‘breakthrough’ nuclear detection technology

Rhombus Power Rhombus Power Inc.’s first product, Mercury, is a networked, scalable, digital, highly accurate, easy to use neutron detector, says the company in a May 15 press announcement.

Mercury can be readily used by homeland security, defense, and intelligence communities to detect contraband nuclear weapons and materials. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has independently verified that Mercury meets ANSI standards, says Rhombus.

Mercury is being demonstrated in Gaithersburg, MD, on May 29 at NIST to a number of U.S. Government agencies. An earlier prototype of Mercury was successfully demonstrated in December 2013 at University of California, Berkeley to scientists and U.S. Government agencies.

President Obama and his national security team continue to rate nuclear terrorism as a high priority threat to our homeland. At the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague, in response to a question about his concerns over deteriorating U.S.-Russian relations, the President said, “I continue to be much more concerned, when it comes to our security, with the prospect of a nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan.”

According to Rhombus CEO and founder, Dr. Anshuman Roy, “Currently deployed nuclear detectors are unreliable because they are inaccurate and require frequent calibration. And the world has run out of Helium-3 that served as the workhorse neutron sensing material for decades.”

To address this critical national security need, Dr. Roy left a research position at UC Santa Barbara in 2012 to start Rhombus Power. Dr. Roy and his Rhombus team joined the NASA Research Park (NRP) at NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley.

According to Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Alan Heeger, “Rhombus’ neutron detector [Mercury] will make America safe from terrorist movement of fissionable materials. It is 10x more accurate than available solutions and it is free of false positives that plague existing technologies — it is a breakthrough innovation.”

Rhombus has provided detectors to the nuclear science departments at the University of California, Berkeley, and San Jose State University for characterization. According to Dr. Kai Vetter, Professor of Nuclear Engineering at UC Berkeley, “Mercury is an on/off detector for neutrons that does not require calibration and is free of false alarms.”

Dr. Gilles Muller, Director of Nuclear Science at San José State University, added, “We are delighted to facilitate the characterization experiments of Mercury at our Nuclear Science facility.”