The Nuclear Science and Security Consortium Virtual Learning Series has been planned to support continued connection between students and national laboratory subject matter experts, particularly during the current global pandemic.

Upcoming events:

Next-Generation Laser Plasma Spectroscopy Technologies for Nuclear Security

September 14 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm PST

Broadcast live here:

Abstract: Pulsed laser technologies play a critical role in nuclear security, including remote sensing, safeguards, and emergency response. My group’s research focuses on the development of next-generation laser technologies with improved sensitivity, precision, and detection range for nuclear non-proliferation applications. This talk will cover recent work on emerging ultrafast technologies based on optical emission. Specifically, I will discuss new femtosecond laser ablation sampling approaches that enable remote isotopic and elemental sensing, improve laser beam propagation at extended distances, and preferentially enhance or impede chemical reactions for the detection of isotopes. Enabling laser technologies to include femtosecond filamentation, ultrafast optical vortex beams, and femtosecond-induced weakly ionized air plasma channels to optimize detection distance and sensitivity.

Bio: Dr. Vassilia Zorba is a Physicist Staff Scientist and Group Leader for the Laser Technologies Group at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. She is also an Associate Adjunct Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the University of California, Berkeley. Her research interests include ultrafast laser-material interactions, non-linear optics, remote sensing, laser-induced plasma chemistry, and laser ablation-based chemical analysis for nuclear security and energy applications. Her previous work focused on femtosecond laser surface structuring technologies and biomimetic material functionalization. Dr. Zorba’s credits include more than 70 publications in peer-reviewed journals, numerous invited talks, and a 2011 R&D 100 Technology Award.


August 4, 3-4 pm Mountain Time

This talk explains the relationship of Containment/Surveillance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), provides definitions and considerations for Containment/Surveillance, and provides examples of technologies that are currently deployed.

Dr. Heidi A. Smartt is a Principal Member of the Technical Staff in the International Safeguards and Engagements department at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  She received her Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of New Mexico in 2005 with an emphasis in Applied Electromagnetics.  Heidi has worked in nuclear nonproliferation since 1997 with early work focused on remote monitoring systems and information assurance for communication systems in international safeguards.  While working on her Ph.D., Heidi gained experience in spectroscopy and imaging systems, eventually completing her dissertation on methods to improve the detection of targets with both spatial and spectral characteristics in hyperspectral imagery.  Her more recent research interests have involved tags, tamper-indicating devices, tamper-indicating enclosures, and Containment/Surveillance approaches and technologies.

Nondestructive Assay for International Safeguards

August 5, 3-4 pm Mountain Time

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is responsible for ensuring the timely detection of diversion of nuclear material from peaceful nuclear programs to illicit weapons programs. This mission is accomplished through implementation of Nuclear Safeguards. At Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), we support the IAEA in this crucial mission through development of nondestructive assay (NDA) technology and analysis methods. This talk will provide an introduction to International Safeguards and an overview of NDA technology and methodologies for verification, as well as highlight current NDA and Safeguards research taking place at LANL.

Dr. Alexis Trahan is an R&D Engineer with the Safeguards Science and Technology group and the Senior Project Lead for NA-241 International Nuclear Safeguards at LANL. She received her B.S. in nuclear engineering from UC Berkeley in 2011 and her M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 2012 and 2016 respectively. Alexis works on development of detection instrumentation and analytical methods with an emphasis on neutron detection for nonproliferation. She is currently developing and testing technologies for used power reactor and research reactor fuel characterization. Alexis is also actively engaged with the Nuclear Compliance Verification program as the LANL Project Lead.

Recordings of NSSC webinars held prior to Summer 2020 are available here.