Nuclear engineers and radiological scientists are interested in the development of more advanced ionizing radiation measurement and detection systems and using these to improve imaging technologies. This includes detector design, fabrication and analysis, measurements of fundamental atomic and nuclear parameters, methods development for detector systems, neutron activation analysis, radiation imaging systems, nondestructive testing and evaluation of components using penetrating radiation, radiological health engineering and medical physics applications. Read on for sample projects.
Clear, semiconducting cubes of cadmium, zinc and tellurium can reveal the identities and whereabouts of nuclear materials by identifying the energy and direction of the gamma rays that these materials emit. Professor Zhong He’s lab develops detectors based on CdZnTe for applications such as national security and astronomy. The detector could locate dirty bombs and other nuclear weapons, or it could reveal the composition of the moon or Mars. His group is developing imaging techniques, a data acquisition system and alternative, cheaper semiconductors that might replace the CdZnTe. For more information, see the Radiation Measurement Group website.
The Detection Methods group, led by Professor David Wehe, explores semiconducting radiation detector materials, integrated circuits for processing detector signals, and radiation imaging with gamma rays. The primary goal of this research is to enhance the available options for the detection of radiation in a wide range of applications: homeland security, medical and industrial uses and scientific research. For more information, see the Detection Methods Group website.
Professor Sara Pozzi’s group focuses on developing new tools and techniques to detect and identify materials such as uranium and plutonium that can be made into nuclear weapons. Their research includes building detector arrays that can measure both neutrons and photons, developing algorithms to interpret the detector data and using measurable signatures to assess the composition of the nuclear material. These types of detectors could be used at border crossings and air and sea ports to scan luggage and shipping containers. They can also monitor the production of nuclear fuels and measure nuclear data related to the physics of fission. For more information, see the Detection for Nuclear Nonproliferation Group website.
Sara Pozzi speaks about her work related to stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and her lab’s upcoming move to the former Ford Nuclear Reactor building.
The Applied Nuclear Science Group led by Professor Igor Jovanovic harnesses the physics of ionizing radiation and laser-matter interactions to address novel applications in nuclear security, energy, and fundamental science. His group develops neutron detectors and methods for active interrogation as well as antineutrino detectors over a wide range of scales for nuclear nonproliferation applications. In the Gérard Mourou Center for Ultrafast Optical Science he develops novel ultrafast optical sources and methods for remote and trace material detection via laser spectroscopy, along with intense laser science and technology for high-field science and nuclear photonics.
Professor Alex Bielajew and coworkers formulate mathematical and computer models of how electrons and photons move through matter for precise predictions of dose deposition in the human body and more accurate interpretations of radiation dosimeter readings, thereby reducing the total radiation dose needed to treat cancer through radiotherapy.
Work in Professor Kimberlee Kearfott’s lab is developing novel detector and dosimeter designs and improving measurement methods for medical, industrial, laboratory and nuclear power radiation safety applications. The group concentrates its efforts on practical systems and radiation measurements methods deployable in the immediate future. For more information, see the Radiological Health Engineering website.
Medical physics is a discipline involving the application of physics to biology and medicine. The clinical practice of medical physics, for medical diagnosis and therapy, involves the application of both ionizing and non-ionizing radiation to patients. Current US standards of professional practice require medical physicists to complete structured clinical training and either have graduated from accredited graduate programs or obtain a certificate approved by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Physics Education Programs (CAMPEP). The University of Michigan now offers a Medical Physics Certificate for which accreditation by CAMPEP is being sought.
Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences