Nuclear data measurements with neutrons (funded by TAMU National Labs Office)
We perform neutron measurements using organic scintillation detectors to inform nuclear security, nuclear data and nuclear physics research. For instance, we are working with Los Alamos National Labs to measure multiplicity of Pu-240. At present, we work with several EJ-309 liquid organic scintillation detectors and are expanding measurements with barium-fluoride and p-Terphenyl detectors. Machine learning methods are being studied to unfold neutron detector response from organic liquid scintillators. These reconstructed spectra can help inform nuclear security, nuclear physics, nuclear data, and health physics applications.
Advanced Nuclear Fuel Safety and Security (funded by T3-TAMU): We are studying advanced nuclear fuel based on TRISO particles to be used in very high temperature reactors. Our objective is to improve the operation of such automated fuel cycles with radiation measurements of burnup and used nuclear fuel of pebbles. The present funding will be used to develop barium fluoride and p-Terphenyl detector. This work will also be used to understand the policy implications of future deep burn TRISO particle based reactors. This work will utilize very fast signal processing techniques performed on-the-fly using microelectronics.
Anti-neutrino detection methods: Anti-neutrinos are evasive particles, however, if detected they can provide information about a reactor’s operational history such as the power of a reactor, the isotopics, its fuel cycle design. Our effort is to develop coherent neutrino-nucleus scatter based antineutrino detection (first measured in 2017) for nuclear safeguards and safety purposes. We have shown in our 2020 IEEE publication that germanium and silicon based detectors with ultra-low thresholds developed by the MINER group at Texas A&M can detect reactor antineutrinos much below the existing threshold of 1.806 MeV (with inverse beta-decay detectors). The germanium threshold for 20 eV nuclear recoil can be ~800 keV and that for silicon can be ~500 keV. It is also found that using CNS, germanium will have a detection rate 20 times higher than a comparable size IBD detector and, where is silicon will be about 4 times higher than IBD (when background events are not accounted for).