University of Michigan PhD Candidate and CVT Graduate Associate, Marc Ruch, is recognized for best student paper at this year’s ANS conference for Advances in Nuclear Nonproliferation Technology & Policy Conference.
left to right: Mateusz Monterial, CVT Graduate Associate, Marc Ruch, CVT Graduate Associate, Professor Sara Pozzi.
Nature Communications features an article titled, “A physical zero-knowledge object-comparison system for nuclear warhead verification.” The research was led by members of our CVT team including Sébastien Philippe, Robert J. Goldston, Alexander Glaser, & Francesco d’Errico.
Zero-knowledge proofs are mathematical cryptographic methods to demonstrate the validity of a claim while providing no further information beyond the claim itself. The possibility of using such proofs to process classified and other sensitive physical data has attracted attention, especially in the field of nuclear arms control. Here we demonstrate a non-electronic fast neutron differential radiography technique using superheated emulsion detectors that can confirm that two objects are identical without revealing their geometry or composition. Such a technique could form the basis of a verification system that could confirm the authenticity of nuclear weapons without sharing any secret design information. More broadly, by demonstrating a physical zero-knowledge proof that can compare physical properties of objects, this experiment opens the door to developing other such secure proof-systems for other applications.
CVT Graduate Associate, Jayson Vavrek, is featured in an MIT NSE article on his efforts with turning praticle detectors into weapons detectors.
Nuclear Science and Engineering PhD student Jayson Vavrek applies his particle physics to solve problems with nuclear weapons disarmament.
Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering (NSE) graduate student Jayson Vavrek got his start in high-energy particle physics, looking for the smallest forms of matter in the universe. Now at MIT, he uses the same tools and principles to verify nuclear weapons.
The system Vavrek is developing, along with his advisor Areg Danagoulian, Assistant Professor of NSE, is called physical cryptography.
CVT Graduate Students win Fuel Cycle Research Awards!
CVT Graduate Students, Marc Paff and Marc Ruch, have won awards in the 2015 Innovations in Fuel Cycle Research Awards sponsored by the U.S. Department of Enercy, Office of Fuel Cycle Technologies. Both students are PhD candidates in the Nuclear Engineering and radiological Sciences department at the University of Michigan.
Marc Paff, a Ph.D. student in Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences, has been awarded a First Place prize in the Open Competition in the category of Material Protection, Control, and Accountancy. His award-winning research paper, “Organic Liquid Scintillation Detectors for On-The-Fly Neutron/Gamma Alarming and Radionuclide Identification in a Pedestrian Radiation Portal Monitor,” was published in the journal Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics in July 2015.
Marc Ruch, a Ph.D. student in Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences, has been awarded a Second Place prize in the Open Competition in the category of Material Protection, Control, and Accountancy. His award-winning research paper, “Pulse Shape Discrimination Performance of Stilbene Coupled to Low-Noise Silicon Photomultipliers,” was published in the journal Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics in September 2015.
For more information on the Innovations in Fuel Cycle Research Awards program, visit http://www.fuelcycleinnovations.org.
Congratulations to Dr. Shaun Clarke, CVT Assistant Director, who received the 2016 INMM Early Career Award!
Dr. Shaun Clarke (center) is accompanied by Dr. Corey Hinderstein (INMM Vice President, left) and Dr. Larry Satkowiak (INMM President, right).
Researchers develop a ‘physical cryptography’ for secure and accurate accounting of the world’s nuclear arsenals
Verifiably reducing the number of nuclear weapons in the world will require more than international diplomacy; a scientific breakthrough is needed. To date, all nuclear arms control treaties have been limited in a peculiar way: Participants cannot determine that the warheads of other countries being counted are real.
Are You Radioactive?
Shaun Clarke, CVT Assistant Director, with CVT students put on a workshop for middle school students and their families about the basics of radiation titled “Are you radioactive?”. Participants learn how to see and measure radiation, one of the most powerful and mysterious forces in the universe. Activities included building a radiation detector using everyday household objects to observe the natural radiation that is all around us.
Learn how to build your own Cloud Chamber!
The CVT project has been making an impact in the field of nuclear non-proliferation! Find some highlights within this newsletter on ongoing projects, our award winning research team, and other notable accomplishments.
CVT Fellow, Ciara Sivels, has the winning poster for student competition at the UITI 2016 meeting.
left to right: Matthew Marcath (CVT Student Associate), Professor Sara Pozzi (CVT Director), Shaun Clarke (CVT Assistant Director), Ciara Sivels (CVT Student Fellow), Michael Hamel (CVT Student Associate), Emily King (CVT Undergraduate Fellow), and Angela Di Fulvio (CVT Postdoc Fellow)
Elizabeth Hou, CVT Fellow, wins 1st place at the Michigan Institute for Computational Discovery and Engineering (MICDE) Poster Competition
The announcement and list of winners can be found here:
Professor Sara A. Pozzi is featured in “Celebrating Women in Physics” in this Elsevier Special Issue.
This article features a compilation of papers that have been authored by outstanding women scientists in high level Physics publications, ranging across various disciplines, from Epitaxial growth of topological insulator Bi2Se3 film on Si(111) to the design of optimal light delivery system for co-registered transvaginal ultrasound and photoacoustic imaging of ovarian tissue. These articles were selected by the Editors of those respective publications.
Dr. Pozzi is being featured for her publication titled “MCNP-PoliMi: a Monte-Carlo code for correlation measurements“.
R. Scott Kemp receives prestigious Sloan Research Fellowship!
Awarded annually since 1955, the Sloan Research Fellowships are given to early-career scientists and scholars whose achievements and potential identify them as rising stars among the next generation of scientific leaders. This year’s recipients are drawn from 52 colleges and universities across the United States and Canada.
January 6 Explosion in North Korea
University of Michigan and other university scientists, part of the Consortium for Verification Technology (CVT), are studying the January 6, 2016 explosion in North Korea. The initial analysis of seismic signals performed by Paul Richards and Won-Young Kim at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory found that this event is comparable in magnitude to those from the May 2009 and February 2013 nuclear weapons tests in North Korea (the October 2006 test is widely regarded as a fizzle). Richards and Kim are quoted in an article by CNBC. Other scientists have independently validated this conclusion. Regarding the North Korean claim that it has tested a thermonuclear weapon, CVT scientist Frank Von Hippel of Princeton says: “the seismic magnitude appears to be in the same range as the 2013 test, which was estimated to be of the order of 10 kilotons, it was not in the yield range that we usually associate with thermonuclear tests.” CVT scientist Alexander Glaser, also of Princeton, adds: “If radionuclides have been (or will be) vented from the underground test site, then nuclear forensic analysis may be able to substantiate or challenge North Korea’s claim about the nature of the device. “
CVT scientists Milton Garces (University of Hawaii) and John Lee (University of Michigan) are in the process of obtaining infrasound and radionuclide data, respectively, from the International Monitoring System. These data, together with the seismic data, will provide excellent research and educational opportunities for the faculty and students in the CVT.
Source: Paul Richards and Won-Young Kim, Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
The Consortium for Verification Technology (CVT) is funded by the Defense Nuclear Non-Proliferation Research and Development office (DNN R&D) of the U.S. Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration under award #DE-NA0002534. The CVT consists of thirteen leading universities and nine national laboratories, working together to provide the research and development and human capital needed to address technology and policy issues in treaty-compliance monitoring. The underlying issues include nuclear nonproliferation and safeguards in support of the mission of the NNSA’s Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Research and Development office. The university partners to the consortium are University of Michigan (UM), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Princeton University, Columbia University, North Carolina State University (NCSU), University of Hawaii (UH), Pennsylvania State University (PSU), Duke University, University of Wisconsin (UW), University of Florida (UF), Oregon State University (OSU), Yale University, and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). The university participants will execute research projects in collaboration with the DOE national laboratories, including Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), Sandia National Laboratory (SNL), Idaho National Laboratory (INL), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), and Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL).
MCNP/MCNPX – PoliMi Workshop, 2016
The Consortium for Verification Technology (CVT) and the Consortiu for Nonproliferation Enabling Capabilities (CNEC) are hosting the Seventh MCNPX-PoliMi Training Workshop at the University of Michigan campus Johnson Rooms on June 21, 22, & 23, 2016. Seating is Limited. Registration will be accepted on first-come-first serve basis.
For more workshop information, visit our workshop details page here: http://cvt.engin.umich.edu/mcnpx-polimi-workshop-2016/
REGISTER ONLINE: https://www.regonline.com/mcnpxpolimiworkshop2016
IAEA safeguards inspector at a gas centrifuge uranium enrichment plant
In this video, we follow an IAEA safeguards inspector at a gas centrifuge uranium enrichment plant in the Netherlands. Uranium enrichment, a process in which the proportion of fissile U-235 isotopes is increased from 0.71% to up to 6% for industrial use, is an essential step in the preparation of nuclear fuel. However, the nuclear material and technology at enrichment plants can also be used to manufacture weapons grade uranium (over 85%). The IAEA verifies that all nuclear material and activities are declared by the State, and that no nuclear material is diverted from peaceful purposes.
In the film, the inspector explains and demonstrates how she collects samples, checks inventories, and verifies enrichment levels – all to ensure that material is not being diverted to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. Inspectors, equipment, techniques and technologies are critical components of IAEA safeguards.
Student Feature: Ruaridh Macdonald, CVT Associate
“Energy is incredibly fundamental to life,” MIT graduate student Ruaridh Macdonald says. “That’s why I keep studying it.”
This tenet has been the thread throughout Macdonald’s nearly eight years at MIT — first as an undergraduate, then as a master’s student, and now as a PhD student — all spent studying nuclear science and engineering. Though he has remained engaged in this one department, he’s participated in a variety of projects, first studying reactor design as he pursued his master’s degree and now working on a nuclear weapons verification project in the Laboratory for Nuclear Security and Policy.
Read more about Ruaridh’s journey here: http://web.mit.edu/nse/news/spotlights/2015/ruaridh-macdonald.html
CVT Workshop at the Campus Inn, Ann Arbor, October 15, 2105.
A two day conference held October 15-16th marked the end of the first year of the Consortium for Verification Technology, a project comprised of 13 universities and nine national labs tasked with analyzing nuclear nonproliferation efforts and improvements in nuclear monitoring and detection technologies.
Congratulations to the 2015 American Nuclear Society (ANS) Student Design Competition winners!
Left to Right: Brianne Heisinger, Crystal Green, Jennifer Nguyen, Kyle Kondrat, Matthew Krupcale, Prof. Ron Gilgenbach
The winning team includes CVT students (Crystal Green, Jennifer Nguyen, and Matthew Krupcale) from the University of Michigan. Their project “Zero Knowledge Active Interrogation of Nuclear Warheads” won in the Graduate Category.
CVT holds a successful workshop!
Above: Attendees at the 2015 CVT Workshop pose for a group photo on October 15, 2015.
The Consortium for Verification Technology held a very successful annual workshop on October 15th and 16th, 2015 at the Dahlmann Campus Inn in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The workshop was attended by 84 participants consisting of 47 professionals and 37 students. 36 talks and 21 posters were presented during the duration of the workshop. Of the 57 presentations, 16 talks and 17 posters were presented by CVT student and postdoctoral fellows and associates.
An interactive agenda provides pdf versions of the presentation material displayed at the workshop which can be accessed by clicking on the presentation title listed on the site here:
Sara Pozzi on Moving into the Ford Reactor Space
CVT Chief Scientist, Professor David Wehe, organized a two-day radiation detection and measurement short course.
David Wehe teaches a Radiation Detection Short Course at the IEEE Nuclear Science Symposium, November 2015.
CVT Associate is a 2015 Young Mind Finalist!
Emily King, CVT Undergraduate Fellow at the University of Michigan, is selected as a 2015 Young Mind Awards Finalist! Emily’s video submission can be viewed on her profile page linked here.
You can learn more about the Young Mind Awards by visiting their website: http://www.youngmindawards.com/
CVT Associate is recognized for outstanding internship work at PNNL
CVT Associate, Pin-Yu Chen, receives recognition for his outstanding work during a 2015 summer internship at PNNL. Pin-Yu is a student at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Read more about his research at the lab here: http://www.pnnl.gov/science/highlights/highlight.asp?id=4103
The CVT universities invite national laboratory scientists to spend time on campus researching with CVT faculty and students and participate in activities such as
- serving on graduate student thesis committees,
- teaching a short course on a topic of interest to verification technology and policy, or
- presenting invited seminars and lectures.
The CVT will support up to 4 national laboratory scientists to spend up to two weeks researching at CVT universities in collaboration with faculty and students. Support includes transportation, lodging, and meal/incidentals expenses. A brief report will be submitted at the end of the appointment.
CVT fellows and faculty at 2015 DAF experiments
From left to right: Jonathan Mueller (NCSU PostDoc), Michael Hamel (Michigan PhD student) , Prof. Sara Pozzi (Michigan), Kyle Polack (Michigan PhD student), Prof. John Mattingly (NCSU), David Goodman, (Michigan PhD student), Jason Newby (ORNL), Prof. Zhong He (Michigan), Michael Streicher (Michigan PhD student)
The Consortium for Verification Technology was successful in organizing the first university-led radiation measurement campaign at the Device Assembly Facility at the Nevada National Security Site. The goal of the experiments was to characterize the performance of three unique radiation imaging systems in the presence of large quantities of special nuclear material including 4.5 kg of weapons grade plutonium and 13 kg of highly enriched uranium. The systems included a dual-particle scatter camera and a photon scatter and coded-aperture camera from the University of Michigan. The third imaging system was a coded-aperture neutron imaging system being developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The week-long experiments provided excellent benchmark data and operational experience for each imaging system with sources that are not typically accessible to researchers. Four University of Michigan students took part in the experiments.
CVT students earn recognition for design work from ANS!
Twenty-nine of the nation’s top scientists wrote to President Obama on Saturday in support of the deal, which calls for Iran to curb its nuclear program and allow inspections in return for an end to sanctions. You can read the letter herein.
CVT Associate Matthew Marcath is recognized as an 2015 Innovations in Fuel Cycle Research Award Winner! See the announcement here.
CTBTO presentation by Paul Richards, “A Seismic Event in North Korea on 12 May 2010 – Claims, supporting evidence, and some discussion for a CTBT-relevant event”, June 2015
The University and Industry Technical Interchange 2015 (UITI 2015) review meeting is an opportunity to showcase the Office of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Research and Development’s (DNN R&D) funded research projects from universities, small businesses (SBIR & STTR), and their laboratory partners to the broader nuclear security and nonproliferation community. Consortium for Nuclear Science and Security, consortium for Verification Technology and consortium for Nonproliferation Enabling Capabilities will also be well represented. UITI is an unclassified venue for stakeholders within the community to engage sponsored researchers, as well as a forum to stimulate collaboration, technology transfer and integration. 50 technical presentations 100 posters from a variety of disciplines will be presented including:
radiation detection, advanced materials, remote sensing, safeguards and simulations, algorithms and modeling. In addition, the Department of Energy (DOE) National Laboratories will each provide an overview poster of their DNN R&D sponsored research programs. Representatives from U.S. government agencies involved in nuclear security and non-proliferation will be in attendance.
University of Michigan DNNG students and researchers present their research to Anne Harrington during a lab tour
Anne Harrington is Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation for the National Nuclear Security Administration.
The University of Michigan welcomes Anne Harrington, Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation National Nuclear Security Administration
Anne will present her talk titled, “Policy and Technology: Can They Work Together to Miinimize Future Security Risks?”
View Dr. Lazar Supic’s video on “Enhancing gamma-ray detection and imaging characteristics in HPGe double-sides strip detectors employing signal decomposition algorithms” presented at the University of Michigan on March 9th, 2015
On February 3rd, 2015, Dr. Sara Pozzi presented her research on Scintillators for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Nuclear Physics Studies at a seminar at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.
While there have been intense recent efforts to improve upon fission theory, this talk focuses on achieving the best possible phenomenological understanding of fission.
View Dr. Richards’ presentation on “Seismic Monitoring for Hundreds of Earthquakes per day and for the occasional nuclear explosion.”
Paul conducts research on the theory of seismic wave propagation, the physics of earthquakes, the interior structure of the earth, and the application of seismological methods to explosion and earthquake monitoring.
The Consortium for Verification Technology held a very successful Kickoff Workshop on October 16 and 17 at the Campus Inn in Ann Arbor, MI. A total of 58 representatives from 13 collaborating universities and 9 national laboratories were present, including 10 CVT fellows (PhD students and post-doctoral researchers). Four representatives from DOE NNSA were also in attendance. The participants are internationally recognized leaders in the field of nuclear nonproliferation and safeguards. The workshop agenda included 26 oral presentation from faculty participants, 9 presentations on the national laboratory capabilities, and 10 poster presentations from the CVT fellows. The CVT is led by Professor Sara Pozzi from University of Michigan and represents a 25 M$/5 year investment by DOE to address the pressing needs in nuclear treaty verification and develop the next generation of experts in this field.
The Consortium for Verification Technology (CVT), consists of thirteen leading universities and nine national laboratories, working together to provide the research and development and human capital needed to address technology and policy issues in treaty-compliance monitoring. (read more)
The institutions and key personnel selected for this effort have a record of excellence in the areas of interest to the CVT. These researchers and educators are fully committed to the development of the next-generation of nuclear science professionals.
We selected a diverse group of professors, at various stages in their careers, leading research groups in geographically distributed, large and small departments. (read more)
We gratefully acknowledge the Department of Energy, National Nuclear Security Administration, NA-22, for funding the Consortium for Verification Technology!