Celebrate Princeton Invention: Charles Gentile

Dec. 21, 2009 1:20 p.m.
Charles Gentile

Charles Gentile, head of tritium systems at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, holds a component of the compact Miniature Integrated Nuclear Detection System (MINDS), which works in conjunction with proprietary algorithms for real-time identification of radioactive materials and distinction between expected and nonexpected sources. (Photo: Brian Wilson)

Name: Charles Gentile, head of tritium systems at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL)

Invention: Miniature Integrated Nuclear Detection System (MINDS)

What it does: This compact system, about the size of a thermos with an associated computer, can be used to identify radioactive materials and to determine in real time whether the source is naturally occurring, medical or otherwise authorized, or unauthorized.

Inspiration: The PPPL team first created a device to identify nuclear elements during the decommissioning of the Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor, a massive fusion experiment that ran at PPPL from 1982 to 1997. After its potential for homeland security applications was realized in December 2001 when the U.S. government called for systems able to detect nuclear weapons and "dirty bombs," the team included in the device sophisticated capabilities to distinguish between expected and nonexpected sources of radiation in everyday venues, including rail stations, tollbooths, airports and military installations.

Collaborators: Andrew Carpe, PPPL technical assistant; Steve Langish, PPPL technical supervisor; PPPL software engineers Kenny Silber, Dana Mastrovito and Bill Davis; and Jason Perry, a 2004 graduate

Commercialization status: InSitech Inc., a nonprofit foundation that commercializes government-sponsored technologies, has licensed MINDS technology from the University and is building a client base.

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