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

Kairos Power Selects Location for Fluoride Salt-Cooled High-Temperature Test Reactor

Kairos Power Selects Location for Fluoride Salt-Cooled High-Temperature Test Reactor

December 12th, 2020


Kairos Power has announced the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) in Oak Ridge, Tennessee will be the location for their Fluoride Salt-Cooled High-Temperature Test Reactor, pending further discussion with state and local officials.

Find their official press release on their website:

Kairos Power was co-founded by Professor Per Peterson, Michael Laufer and Edward Blandford

Jasmina Vujic: The First Female Chair of a Nuclear Engineering Department

Jasmine Vujic: The First Female Chair of a Nuclear Engineering Department

November 06, 2020


Jasmina Vujic was the first woman to join UC Berkeley’s nuclear engineering faculty in 1992, and in 2005 became the first female chair of a nuclear engineering department in the nation. She is renowned as a top researcher in the field of nuclear energy systems, numerical methods and biomedical applications of radiation. She is also the principal investigator and founding director of the Nuclear Science and Security Consortium. The $50M+ multi-institution initiative aims to train the next generation of nuclear scientists and engineers, as well as engage academic communities in collaborative research and development with national laboratories in support of the nation’s nonproliferation mission.

Vujic was born and raised in Serbia, where she has been involved in educational initiatives. She is a member of RadWatch, a Berkeley project that provides data on radiation to the public. From 2009–11 she helped lead the Nuclear Engineering Department Heads Organization and has worked as a consultant for such companies as General Electric, Transware and VeriTainer.

As an internationally recognized expert in nuclear science and technology, Vujic is a member of various domestic and international advisory boards and nuclear reactor safety boards. She is a fellow of the American Nuclear Society and has been a member of several committees of the U.S. National Academies of Sciences.

E.S. Kuh Chair of Engineering: Peter Hosemann

E.S. Kuh Chair of Engineering: Peter Hosemann

September 24th, 2020

Professor and Department Chair Peter Hosemann was announced as the E.S. Kuh Chair of Engineering. This honor is granted to a faculty member with outstanding research, teaching, and service. The Chair, funded by the Hewlett Endowment, honors the memory of Prof. Ernest Kuh (1928-2015) of the EECS department, who served as Chair, and as the Dean of the UC Berkeley College of Engineering.
Ernest Kuh joined the EECS Department faculty in 1956. From 1968 to 1972 he served as chair of the department; from 1973 to 1980 he served as Dean of the College of Engineering. 

Prof. Kuh was a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the Academia Sinica, and a foreign member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He was a Fellow of IEEE and AAAS. He received numerous awards and honors, including the ASEE Lamme Medal, the IEEE Centennial Medal, the IEEE Education Medal, the IEEE Circuits and Systems Society Award, the IEEE Millennium Medal, the 1996 C&C Prize, and the 1998 EDAC Phil Kaufman Award.

THE FUTURE OF NUCLEAR ENERGY: Interview with Peter Hosemann

The Future of Nuclear Energy: Interview with Peter Hosemann


If you get cancer treatment today, it’s very likely you will get injected with a radioactive substance. That technology is born out of the nuclear enterprise. Without reactors, you wouldn’t have it. There are numerous examples of the benefits of nuclear engineering beyond just nuclear power.
Dr. Peter Hosemann, Professor in the Department of Nuclear Engineering at University of California, Berkeley

In 2000, nuclear energy from just 30 countries provided approximately 15 percent of worldwide electricity capacity. But by 2019, its share had fallen to 10 percent, with the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicting that without intervention it would fall even further, to 5 percent, by 2040. That represents a significant drop in what could be an important source of clean energy.

“A nuclear power plant doesn’t take up a lot of space, and it can create a tremendous amount of energy, with a carbon footprint that is extremely low,” says Dr. Peter Hosemann, a professor in the Department of Nuclear Engineering at University of California Berkeley, where he is also the current chair.

Nuclear energy is the second-largest low-carbon power source in the world, second only to hydropower. According to the IEA, low-carbon electricity generation has to increase to 85 percent of the world’s energy, from its 36 percent share today, in order to stave off the most calamitous effects of climate change. Of major low-carbon energy sources, nuclear power is the least dependent upon geography.

“I believe the use of nuclear energy will increase as we become more serious about climate change and carbon emission,” Dr. Hosemann says. “I don’t think we have much of a choice.”

Dr. Peter Hosemann is a professor in the Department of Nuclear Engineering at the University of California Berkeley, where he is also the department chair. He received his MS and PhD degrees in material science from Montanuniversität Leoben, Austria.

Prior to joining the Department of Nuclear Engineering at UC Berkeley, Dr. Hosemann was a graduate research assistant and a post-doc at Los Alamos National Laboratory. His research features experimental material science for nuclear applications, with a focus on the structural materials used for nuclear components.



Six Nuclear Engineering Faculty Members Receive U.S. Department of Energy NEUP Grants

Six Nuclear Engineering Faculty Members Receive U.S. Department of Energy NEUP Grants

June 18, 2020


NEUP funds nuclear energy research and equipment upgrades at U.S. colleges and universities and provides student educational support.

The following six faculty members were awarded NEUP grants to further their research to help the U.S. Department of Energy accomplish its mission of leading the nation's investment in the development and exploration of advanced nuclear science and technology:

MIT & Raluca Scarlat: Molten Salt Reactor Test Bed with Neutron Irradiation
UTK & Massimiliano Fratoni: Multi-physics fuel performance modeling of TRISO-bearing fuel in advanced reactor environments
Rebecca Abergel: Evaluating hydroxypyridinone-based ligands for actinide and fission products recovery in used fuels
Peter Hosemann: Femtosecond Laser Ablation Machining & Examination - Center for Active Materials Processing (FLAME-CAMP)
Lee Bernstein, Massimiliano Fratoni, Jon:  Improved Molten Salt Reactor Design with New Nuclear Data for the 35Cl(n,x) and 56Fe(n,n’) reactions
NCSU & Peter Hosemann:  Corrosion Sensitivity of Stainless Steels in Pressurized Water Reactor Water Chemistry: Can KOH replace LiOH in PWRs?
NEUP infrastructure:
Peter Hosemann: Scanning Electron Microscope for nuclear materials investigation enabling in-situ techniques and novel characterization for the nuclear energy community