Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering

NRE 8011/8012 and MP 6011/6012 Seminar

Nuclear & Radiological Engineering and Medical Physics Programs


The Intersection of Nuclear Science and Nuclear Security


Dr. Adam Bernstein


Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory


Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 11:00:00 AM


Boggs Building, Room 3-47


Dr. Anna Erickson


In this talk, Dr. Bernstein will discuss examples of the overlap of detection technologies and methods between fundamental nuclear physics - including neutrino physics and the search for nuclear interactions of dark matter particles - and nuclear applications in the area of fissile material security and nonproliferation. The overlap arises from the fact that both areas are concerned with the properties of neutral particles - gamma-rays, neutrons, antineutrinos and/or dark matter candidates - which form either the signal or background for the processes under study. For example, antineutrinos from reactors are studied in order to learn about neutrino mass and mixing, while the same signal can be used to learn about the real-time fissile content of the core as part of the international nonproliferation regime for civil nuclear reactors. Similarly, keV-to-MeV scale neutrons and gamma–rays are the main background in many dark matter detectors, and the signal of interest arising from fissile materials being sought or monitored in nonproliferation contexts. The talk will present the broad context that motivates the nuclear security applications, along with the fundamental physics that underlies both applications and basic research, and provide worked examples of the intersection of research in both domains.


Dr. Bernstein is a staff physicist leads the Rare Event Detection Group in Physics Division at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Since graduating from Columbia University in 1995 with a Ph.D. in physics, he has worked at Lawrence Livermore and Sandia National Labs on the development of advanced l radiation detectors for use in fundamental and applied physics. He has pioneered and help bring to maturity what has become a wide international effort to develop antineutrino detectors as a tool for monitoring nuclear reactors. In the area of applied physics, his main interested in the development of improved radiation detection techniques that facilitate and support global nuclear arms control, nonproliferation and disarmament. His interest in fundamental physics is primarily in the study of rare neutral particles, in particular the measurement of neutrino oscillations using reactor sources, and the search for direct interactions of dark matter in Earthly detectors.