April 09, 2021
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Nuclear reactors have played an important role in the study of the mysterious fundamental particle known as the neutrino dating back to the discovery of neutrinos at Savanna River’s P reactor in 1956. It’s about time that neutrino science returned the favor, by developing neutrino-based technologies that can help to enable the growth of nuclear power, as instrumentation for advanced reactors and nuclear security. Neutrinos are produced in the beta decay of the neutron rich fission fragments. They stream freely through the reactor shielding materials, carrying information about the reactions in the core, and they can be detected well outside the secondary containment. Recent advances in reactor neutrino detector technology have making it practical to consider applications, which have long been consider a pipe dream. This presentation will explore the history of neutrinos at nuclear reactors, discuss some advances in detector technology, and review potential applications of neutrino detection to nuclear instrumentation.
Jonathan Link is a professor of physics at Virginia Tech and an affiliate faculty member in the Virginia Tech Nuclear Engineering Program. He received his B.S. in physics from the University of California Davis in 1993 and his PhD in particle physics from UC Davis in 2001. Prof. Link was a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University from 2001 to 2006 where he participated in the search for sterile neutrinos with the MiniBooNE experiment and developed a next generation reactor neutrino oscillation experiment. In 2006 he joined the faculty of Virginia Tech, where he co-founded the Center for Neutrino Physics. He served as its director from 2012 to 2018. He was an integral part of the Daya Bay Reactor Neutrino Experiment, an effort which culminated in the discovery and measurement of θ13, the last mixing angle in the three-neutrino mixing model. The achievement was recognized as one of the top breakthroughs of 2012 by Science Magazine, and for his contributions to this result Prof. Link shared the 2016 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics with his Daya Bay collaborators. Prof. Link is recognized as a leader in the search for sterile neutrinos, as well as in applications of neutrinos to nuclear instrumentation and security. Prof. Link has published 151 papers in scholarly journals and his work has been cited more than 15,000 times.