Antineutrino reactor monitoring and applications to nuclear non-proliferation safeguards (video)

Patrick Huber, Associate Professor of Physics, Center for Neutrino Physics, Virginia Tech

Nuclear reactors are the brightest man-made neutrino sources and have been the workhorse of neutrino physics since the discovery of the neutrino. In the 1970s Mikaelyan realized that neutrinos also can be used to learn about the internal state of a nuclear reactor. In particular, fission of different isotopes, e.g. uranium-235 versus plutonium-239, produces very different neutrino energy spectra. Thus, allowing for the theoretical possibility to measure the plutonium content of a reactor. The past few year years have seen a significant increase in the interest in reactor neutrinos, related to the Daya Bay, RENO and Double Chooz experiments aimed at measuring theta-13. This interest and the results from those experiments have greatly improved our ability to assess the feasibility of antineutrino reactor monitoring. In particular, I will discuss case studies we have performed for the historical case of the 1990s nuclear crisis in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and for the more recent case of the IR-40 reactor in Iran. I also will summarize our current understanding of reactor antineutrino yields and necessary steps to improve our understanding.

Finally, I will report on on-going efforts to develop suitable detectors for surface deployment close to a nuclear reactor.