Physics Department Seminar
Dr. Oleg Kamaev
R&D Scientist
Canadian Nuclear Laboratories
Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories’ Initiatives in Application of Cosmic Ray Muons to Nuclear Security and Safeguards

Nuclear technologies bring a variety of benefits to our lives such as power generation, radiation therapy, and many industrial applications. While the world relies on continuous carbon-free energy generated by 454 civil nuclear power reactors currently in operation (World Nuclear Association,, it’s critical to ensure that nuclear materials are secure and are used only by authorized persons and only for peaceful purposes. Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) has extensive past and on-going experience in the development of technologies to strengthen nuclear safety and security. This experience includes development of high-sensitivity non-degradable detectors for border security, studies of active interrogation methods using neutrons or gamma-rays, and employment of stand-off radiation detectors to locate special nuclear materials, monitor reactors from a distance, and to intercept any diversion operations.     
One of the emerging techniques for passive non-destructive detection of shielded illicit nuclear materials in large-volume objects is muon tomography. It uses naturally occurring cosmic-ray muons to determine the presence of high-density/high-Z materials such as uranium or plutonium. Muons are much more deeply penetrating than x-rays, neutrons, or gamma-rays, and cannot be easily shielded, making them particularly attractive to nuclear security and safeguards verification activities. A unique medium-scale muon tomography prototype with a capability of measuring muon momentum, the Cosmic Ray Inspection and Passive Tomography (CRIPT) detector, is in operation at CNL (initially constructed at Carleton). In addition, a portable muon tomography system suitable for rapid detection and response in the event of a nuclear or radiological emergency is undergoing construction and verification.
In this talk I will give an overview of CNL with an emphasis on our nuclear safety & security program and discuss recent work in the development of an integrated detection system based on muon tomography for nuclear security.