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Safeguards Science & Technology, N-1


  • Group Leader
    Michael C. Miller
  • Deputy Group Leader
    Jon S. Bridgewater
  • Office Administrator
    Deborah A. Smith

Working to Safeguard Nuclear and Hazardous Material

N-1 works to safeguard nuclear materials by developing techniques and systems for nondestructive assay of nuclear and hazardous material. Applications include nuclear materials control and accountability for domestic DOE nuclear facilities, nuclear waste disposal, material stabilization efforts, and international nonproliferation efforts.

N-1 instrumentation and analysis technology measures nuclear materials by detecting and analyzing the neutrons, gamma rays, or heat given off by nuclear material. N-1 instrument development begins with conceptual research and physics and proceeds through engineering to an industrial-quality, finished instrument. The analysis can be either active or passive.

In active techniques, the nuclear material is bombarded with neutrons or gamma rays, and the neutrons or gamma rays emitted in response are detected. Some nuclear materials produce sufficient quantities of neutrons, gamma rays, or heat to make a detectable passive signature. Analysis of the energies and intensities of these neutrons and gamma rays reveals the identity and quantity of the nuclear materials. A measurement of the total heat output by calorimetry also provides a quantitative measure of the nuclear material.

N-1 has an extensive training program to teach methods of nondestructive assay measurement and analysis and provides as many as 30 courses annually presented by experts in the field. N-1 instruments and expertise are used for nuclear waste disposal, safety, and safeguards organizations within the US and throughout the world. The following are some examples of N-1 collaborations:

  • DOE/NNSA (nondestructive assay technology for nuclear materials accountability and inventory verification in DOE facilities).
  • International Atomic Energy Agency (technology development and training).
  • International nonproliferation technology (support for US bilateral safeguards collaborations to support the application of inspection technologies).
  • Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan (materials protection, control, and accountability interactions and training, measurement technology for transparency).
  • Waste disposal to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (N-1 developed equipment used at Rocky Flats).

The following are some of N-1's areas of expertise and some specific projects:

  • Nondestructive assay measurement technology using heat, neutrons, and gamma rays (shufflers, passive and active neutron counters, tomographic gamma scanners, and calorimeters).
  • Integrated nondestructive assay systems for control and accountability of nuclear materials.
  • Unattended and remote monitoring systems and information management analysis.
  • Nondestructive assay training on gamma ray, neutron, and calorimetry assay, holdup, and waste measurements.
  • Detectors and electronics development for portable measurements (miniature electronics modules, CdZnTe gamma ray detectors, and fast decay-time neutron detectors).
  • Technology development for holdup, confirmatory measurements, and inventory verification (generalized geometry holdup technique).
  • Experimental and computational physics and simulation for nondestructive assay technology (design of gamma ray assay systems and neutron multiplicity counters).


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