Applied nuclear techniques are used in medical diagnostics and therapeutics, space science, power generation, stockpile stewardship, environmental monitoring, homeland security, geology, oceanography, and many other new and emerging sciences. The Radiation Laboratory at UMass Lowell has a 1-megawatt research reactor and a 5.5 million volt Van de Graaff accelerator, enabling both academic and applied research avenues. The facility is especially well equipped for neutron science, with thermal neutrons from the reactor and fast neutrons produced with the accelerator.
Historically, advances in experimental science are intimately tied to advances in detection techniques. To that end, our group has a vigorous program in detector development, funded by a variety of sources. Partnerships with industry and national laboratories are in place for developing new detector technologies.
A new grant from the National Nuclear Security Administration has funded the development and commissioning an array of new scintillators capable of detecting and differentiating between neutrons and gamma rays, through differences in their pulse shapes.
A second avenue of research is in developing large-area position-sensitive germanium detectors for medical imaging, space science and homeland security with a company from Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
A new direction in interdisciplinary research is the development of a proton microprobe, funded by a Science and Technology grant from the UMass President's Office, which will be able to focus proton beams from the accelerator down to micron sizes. Potential applications range from surface modification and characterization in materials science to biomedical research, such as mapping specific metal content in the brain that has been tied to Alzheimer's disease.
UMass Lowell graduate students lead many of these projects, working with a robust in-house infrastructure for multi-parameter data acquisition and analysis, as well as digital signal processing.