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Durham University

Durham University News


University spin-out wins prestigious award

(24 July 2020)

A University spin out company been recognised for its pioneering work helping Network Rail to investigate hidden shafts and voids in its tunnels.

Geoptic is a company from Durham University, the University of Sheffield and St Mary’s University in Twickenham, working in nuclear and particle physics instrumentation, advanced data analytics and geophysics.

The company has been awarded the national Institute of Physics Business Start-Up award for its contribution to the rail industry through the development of a cost saving technique to measure soil and rock density above tunnels.

Identifying voids

Geoptic’s new technology uses tomography, the same method as radiology, to measure sub-atomic particles (muons) that cascade from the upper atmosphere and penetrate rock.

Unlike radiology the muon signal is natural, free and continuous and the natural signal is partly attenuated by passing through the rock. Voids and other collapsed structures cause less attenuation and can be identified and characterised.

The technology cuts across traditional scientific disciplines, merging geoscience, particle physics and engineering and lifted technology that was originally developed to combat climate change.

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