Dan Kammen to hold James and Katherine Lau Distinguished Chair in Sustainability

Professor Dan Kammen to hold the James and Katherine Lau Distinguished Chair in Sustainability

May 14th, 2021

Professor Dan Kammen was announced as the James and Katherine Lau Distinguished Chair in Sustainability, effective July 1, 2021. This chair is campus-held and was originally approved as an administrative chair providing support for the Berkeley Energy and Climate Initiative (BECI). This honor is granted in recognition of the leadership role he plays in advancing teaching and research in areas ranging from energy supply and demand to related policy and markets.

Professor Per Peterson selected to join the Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board

Professor Per Peterson Selected to Join the Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board

April 30th, 2021


Professor Per Peterson was invited to be a member of the Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board (NASEM). The board oversees the National Academy’s studies in nuclear technologies and radiation health effects and has the responsibility to organize NASEM studies on safety, security, technical efficacy, and other policy and societal issues arising from the application of nuclear and radiation-based technologies.

Find more about NASEM and meet the other Board members:  https://www.nationalacademies.org/nrsb/about

Congratulations, Per!

Christopher Reis’ poster wins 2nd Place at the US-Japan Hawaii Symposium

Christopher Reis' poster wins 2nd Place at the US-Japan Hawaii Symposium

April 27, 2021


First-year graduate student Christopher Reis has won second place for his poster entitled Investigating the limits of high-temperature superconductors for high radiation environments with the US-Japan HEP collaboration, at the US-Japan Hawaii Symposium of the US-Japan Science and Technology Cooperation Program

His poster features work on radiation damage on superconductors. https://conference-indico.kek.jp/event/119/overview
Congratulations Chris!! Well done!!

The abstract for his marvelous paper here:
Nb-based low-temperature superconductors have underpinned the successes of particle accelerator technology over the last few decades. High-temperature superconductors (HTS) open a wider application space, enabling new capabilities for High Energy Physics, High-Field Magnetic Fusion, NMR, neutron, and X-ray scattering. With complimentary goals, expertise, and tools, our team is improving the technological readiness of these novel materials. This collaboration is centered around two main tasks: Investigating HTS technologies for high-radiation environments and measuring/modeling AC loss and field quality of HTS accelerator magnets. The insulation studies implicit to the first task have yielded a simple and scalable method to remove delamination damage of HTS REBCO tapes and seen the irradiation of new epoxies to 20 Mgy. From task one we have also shown that irradiation of these tapes above 1.80E22 n/m2 completely destroys superconductivity. For task two, the team has been employing both experimental tests and modeling to understand the practical limits of REBCO coated conductors due to a quench and methods of alleviation, and field quality of canted-cosine-theta magnets made from a round REBCO cable

SHERMAN: A UCBNE MEng Capstone Project Now Developed at LANL

SHERMAN: A UCBNE MEng Capstone Project Now Developed at LANL

March 12, 2021

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A former MEng Capstone project by Jay Lin was published as a paper last year, and now developed as a product at Los Alamos National Laboratory. It was renamed from RANHAM to SHERMAN (Sample Handling Environment for Radioactive Materials Analysis with Neutrons) and has a commissioning report due in September 2021.

It is planned to hold spend fuel rods for 3D tomography investigations at the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center (LANSCE) accelerator.

To read the published paper: https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s11837-019-03849-2.pdf

Looking forward to more excellent news from our Alumni!

ANS Magazine Radwaste Solutions features Lorenzo Vergari’s work

ANS Magazine 'Radwaste Solutions' features Lorenzo Vergari's work

March 10, 2021

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UCBNE PhD student Lorenzo Vergari's work is featured in the Spring 2021 Issue of the ANS Magazine 'Radwaste Solutions.' Entitled "Packaging TRISO," the article was based on Vergari's presentation of the same topic at the 2020 ANS Virtual Winter Meeting on November 16-19, 2020. He discusses storage and transportation strategies for used Fluoride Salt-Cooled High-Temperature Reactor fuel and identifies the next steps in the investigation before the suggestions can be put into effect.

ANS members can check this article out here. Starting on Page 68

Keep up the Excellent work Lorenzo!

Professor Max Fratoni awarded the Xenel Distinguished Professorship

Professor Max Fratoni awarded the Xenel Distinguished Professorship

February 19, 2021


Professor Max Fratoni was awarded the Xenel Distinguished Professorship to honor his tireless effort for science, education, and service. He joins 3 other distinguished and chaired faculties in the department, and will hold the appointment for 5 years. This is an indication of the excellence we embody in the Department of Nuclear Engineering, and of the contributions we make to UC Berkeley.

Congratulations Professor Fratoni!

UCBNE Researchers and the search for Dark Matter

UCBNE Researchers and the search for Dark Matter

February 12, 2021


UCBNE Professor Karl van Bibber and his group of researchers were featured on campus news for their recent publication in Nature introducing a new experiment to harness the "weirdness of quantum mechanics to accelerate the search for the axion, one of two leading hypothetical subatomic particles that may make up the bulk of dark matter in the universe."

This new technique, called quantum squeezing, allowed the HAYSTAC detector to search for axions at twice the speed as before. “The HAYSTAC detector was already essentially at the quantum limit, and now we’ve actually found a way of circumventing the quantum limit entirely,” said co-author Karl van Bibber, executive associate dean at Berkeley’s College of Engineering and one of the senior researchers on the HAYSTAC project. “Several theoretical works are now predicting that the axion mass is right in the frequency range where HAYSTAC is ready to go next. And we’ve got the cavities and amplifiers all lined up and ready to search.”

Read more in the glowing Berkeley News Article

Great work and congratulations to the research team, Very exciting developments!

Berkeley Team take first-ever measurements of Einsteinium

Berkeley Team take first-ever measurements of Einsteinium

February 5th, 2021

Leticia Arnedo -Sanchez (from left), Katherine Shield, Korey Carter, Jennifer Wacker at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory on Tuesday, November 17, 2020 in Berkeley, Calif. 11/17/20

Researchers in Rebecca Abergel's lab obtained a small sample of einsteinium, a highly radioactive and difficult-to-obtain element, and made the first ever measurement of its bond distance. The study was published in Nature.

“Structural and Spectroscopic Characterization of an Einsteinium Complex,” has been published in Nature; A study co-led by Berkeley Lab scientist and UC Berkeley Nuclear Engineering (UCBNE) Assistant Professor Rebecca Abergel, Los Alamos National Laboratory (LLNL) scientist Stosh Kozimor, and a team of scientists: study co-authors Korey Carter, Katherine Shield (current UCBNE Grad student), Kurt Smith, Leticia Arnedo-Sanchez, Tracy Mattox, Liane Moreau, and Corwin Booth of Berkeley Lab; Zachary Jones and Stosh Kozimor of Los Alamos National Laboratory; and Jennifer Wacker and Karah Knope of Georgetown University—several of whom are graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.

The research was supported by the DOE Office of Science. Luminescence spectroscopy experiments were conducted at the Molecular Foundry at Berkeley Lab, and X-ray absorption spectroscopy at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL) at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. With experimental facilities not available in 1952, when Einsteinium was discovered, the team measured the first-ever Einsteinium bond distance and with less than 250 nanograms of the element!

“There’s not much known about einsteinium,” said Abergel, who leads Berkeley Lab’s Heavy Element Chemistry group. “It’s a remarkable achievement that we were able to work with this small amount of material and do inorganic chemistry. It’s significant because the more we understand about its chemical behavior, the more we can apply this understanding for the development of new materials or new technologies, not necessarily just with einsteinium, but with the rest of the actinides too. And we can establish trends in the periodic table.”

Read more on their challenges and findings in this LBL news piece

Congratulations Professor Abergel and Kathy Shield! —from your UCBNE family.

More News coverage:


Chemistry world

The Nuclear Science and Security Consortium wins 5-year NNSA Grant for the third time

The Nuclear Science and Security Consortium wins 5-year NNSA Grant for the third time

January 27, 2021

Bay Area Neutron Group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory on 08/22/2017 in Berkeley, Calif.

The Berkeley-based center, the NSSC, has won the National Nuclear Security Administration's (NSSA) 5-year, $25 million grant for the third time in a row. The NNSA first awarded the NSSC with a $25 million grant in 2011, then in 2016, and now for Sept. 2021. UC Berkeley's Nuclear Engineering Department Chair, Professor Peter Hosemann, highlights  this "is particularly notable given that most centers only receive it once or twice."

There is a recompetition for the grant every 5 years, as detailed by UCB Nuclear Engineering professor and NSSC program director, Jasmina Vujic: “We have to recompete — this is not renewal — every single time, meaning we have to write an entirely new proposal, have an entirely new team, and compete on a national level against anybody else."

The NSSC has supported over 550 undergraduates, graduates, postdoctoral students, faculty and specialists throughout its history. Focusing most of its funding to student support. “The consortium provides a strong draw for students into nuclear security and nonproliferation research areas,” said NSSC executive director and UCB researcher Bethany Goldblum in an email. “These scholars will go on to be leaders in nuclear nonproliferation, nuclear arms control, nuclear incident response, nuclear energy, and other nuclear-related fields.” 

We congratulate Professor Vujic, Dr. Goldblum, and those that contributed to the successful proposal. To another successful and fruitful 5 years ahead!

Read more on the Daily Cal's feature

Kairos Power’s Hermes, one of the Risk Reduction Projects awarded by DOE’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program


The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced the projects to be funded by its Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP) award for Risk Reduction funding. Kairos Power LLC (Alameda, CA) was selected and will be awarded $629 million over seven years (DOE share is $303 million) and will receive $30 million in initial funding for FY20.

A recognition for the Hermes Reduced-Scale Test Reactor and Kairos's progress in developing its commercial-scale KP-FHR (Kairos Power Fluoride Salt-Cooled High Temperature Reactor): "a novel advanced nuclear reactor technology that leverages TRI-structural ISOtropic particle fuel (TRISO) fuel in pebble form combined with a low-pressure fluoride salt coolant."


DOE's announcement