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Applied nuclear physics for biomedicine, nuclear security and basic science
Date:6/2/2010

In 2008 the Nuclear Science Division (NSD) of the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory launched the Applied Nuclear Physics program, headed by NSD's Kai Vetter upon his return to Berkeley after six years with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. One of the goals of Applied Nuclear Physics is to take experimental principles and equipment created for basic research and develop them into tools that can address practical needs like cancer therapy and homeland security.

"Pure science and practical applications push each other," says Vetter, who is also a professor in residence in UC Berkeley's Department of Nuclear Engineering. "Adapting laboratory devices to real-world uses gives us many opportunities to demonstrate new techniques, which often turn out to benefit science as well."

Among the prime examples of instruments with this kind of versatility are gamma-ray detectors. Two such adaptations have recently earned substantial support from DOE's Office of Nuclear Physics. One, funded directly by DOE, will improve the scope and resolution of radiation spectrographs. The other, funded via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), will develop techniques for three-dimensional imaging of gamma-ray sources.

Gamma rays and 3-D images

The 3-D imaging project is a three-year, $1 million-plus program whose principal investigator is NSD's Lucian Mihailescu. Mihailescu became interested in making images with gamma rays when he was a graduate student in Germany.

"My ambition really took off when I moved to the U.S. and went to work at Livermore," Mihailescu says. "There they were interested in new ideas and applications, not only in predetermined research programs."

At Livermore Mihailescu worked with Vetter, whose degrees are also from German universities, on a scheme to develop a Compton imager for the Department of Homeland Securitya "camera" that uses high-energy ga
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Contact: Paul Preuss
paul_preuss@lbl.gov
510-486-6249
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert  

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