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This paper presents a new concept for the remote detection of radioactive materials. The concept is based on the detection of electromagnetic signatures in the vicinity of radioactive material and can enable stand-off detection at distances greater than 100 m. Radioactive materials emit gamma rays, which ionize the surrounding air. The ionized electrons rapidly attach to oxygen molecules forming ions. The density of around radioactive material can be several orders of magnitude greater than background levels. The elevated population of extends several meters around the radioactive material. Electrons are easily photo-detached from ions by laser radiation. The photo-detached electrons, in the presence of laser radiation, initiate avalanche ionization which results in a rapid increase in electron density. The rise in electron density induces a frequency modulation on a probe beam, which becomes a direct spectral signature for the presence of radioactive material.


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