News from the Nuclear Science Division at Berkeley Lab
View this email in your browser
Nuclear Science Division Newsletter
In this issue:January, 2017

The director’s cut: thoughts for 2017

The Nuclear Science Division recently held a Lab Director’s review in which an outside panel of experts came to examine each of the different Programs and to report back to the Laboratory Director on the quality of science and operations of the NSD. These reviews only occur once every three or four years.  They have tremendous significance since this is when the Laboratory Directorate gains a sense of the range of activities in the NSD, sees the quality of its science and people, and assesses how the Division fits into the overall Lab strategy.  It is fair to say that everyone in NSD did an outstanding job and the panel’s report was well received by the upper management of the laboratory. 

The review was also a great opportunity for colleagues to see what is going on in different parts of the Division. It was wonderful to hear the many exciting talks, especially from our younger scientific staff, on a vast range of topics in Nuclear Science. It can be argued that the NSD holds a unique position in the country, leading research efforts in nearly every branch of Nuclear Science as described in the 2015 Long Range Plan. This is an extraordinary organization, with talented people, doing great science. With the Director’s Review complete, the Long Range Plan published, and 2016 drawing to a close, now is a good time to reflect on recent accomplishments and look forward to new successes. 

In Fundamental Symmetries and Neutrinos several experiments reached key milestones in 2016 and are now entering new phases of operation. The Majorana Demonstrator announced its first results and discussions are underway with the GERDA collaboration about the next steps towards the full Majorana Experiment. CUORE is entering an exciting phase with the initial cool down of all its crystals and with data-taking soon to begin thereafter. Along with SNO+, these three efforts aim at providing results needed for the community to develop a strategy for the next-generation neutrinoless double-beta decay experiments.

In Low Energy Nuclear Physics, the GRETINA gamma-ray tracking array is running a productive campaign at Michigan State’s National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory, focusing on the structure of nuclei far from stability. The full GRETA array will have its DOE CD1 review in April, with the intention that GRETA will be a flag-ship instrument at the Facility from Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) when it starts its full operations in 2023. 

The venerable 88-Inch cyclotron will also have an Operations Review early in 2017. With the revitalization of the local Nuclear Data group (through this year’s hiring of Lee Bernstein, who will lead the group to solve pressing problems in nuclear data for energy, security, and medicine) and the unique opportunities afforded to the Superheavy Element Group by using the new BGS+FIONA set-up at the cyclotron, we expect the 88 to remain a productive and important facility for years to come.

The Relativistic Nuclear Collision Group is going strong. Following the deployment of the STAR HFT detector, which was the first major use of new Monolithic Active Pixel Sensor (MAPS) technology, the ALICE ITS upgrade is now pushing ahead. These technological developments will also pave the way for future large-scale projects at the Electron-Ion Collider. In the meantime, we look for exciting results to continue to flow (excuse the pun) with possibilities such as identifying the QCD critical point, understanding jet transport through the QGP, and exploring the spin structure of the proton.

 Topics in Relativistic Nuclear Collisions have been a focus of our Nuclear Theory Group for many years but one of the most gratifying aspects of our Director’s Review was the recognition of the efforts to expand Theory in new directions. In particular, the Lattice QCD effort, being led in part by Andre Walker-Loud, and the exciting work in Astrophysics and explosive stellar nucleosynthesis of Dan Kasen and his co-workers, are attracting much positive attention (We draw your eyes to the recent Scientific American article by Dan as an example). 

Last, but certainly not least, we want to mention the Applied Nuclear Physics Program. It seems that applications are often included as an afterthought in reports, including many of our field’s own planning documents. However, the NSD Applied Nuclear Physics Program has now become the biggest single Program in the Division in terms of both funding and personnel. The expertise and knowledge in the Program is an incredible asset. For instance, the understanding of Germanium detector technology and application in both pure (GRETA and Majorana, being two obvious examples) and applied science illustrates the need to leverage efforts across the field and Division. The ANP is working with many stakeholders to address key societal problems. The recent developments to fuse data from different modalities (for instance, combining radiation detection with 3D optical imaging) is being used with great effectiveness in monitoring radiation levels at Fukushima and has been applied to screening of cargo containers. This type of work is where the public and government see the importance of nuclear science and we look forward to continued growth in this area.

In short, the NSD is doing very well and there is a lot of room for optimism. As 2017 begins we believe we are all fortunate to work in such an exciting organization.  We look back at our achievements with pride and look forward to our future successes with great anticipation. 

Best wishes to all for 2017!

-Barbara Jacak and Rod Clark

ALICE goes small: radiation tests at the 88-inch cyclotron

The new ITS, comprised of 7 barrels of MAPS sensors. It will use 10 m2 of silicon and contain 12.5 billion pixels..

Sensors bombarded with ions experience radiation effects, such as Single Event Latch-up (SEL) and Single Event Upset (SEU), which can inhibit functionality. Recently, LBNL has completed a campaign to measure the cross section of such radiation-induced events in silicon pixel chips intended for use in the ALICE Inner Tracking System (ITS). During the LHC long shutdown there will be a major upgrade of the ALICE experiment. This will include the installation of the new ITS which will be comprised of 7 concentric barrels of silicon pixel detectors. The new ITS is conceptually and functionally similar to the STAR HFT detector, which was built at  LBNL.

The new ITS will improve our ability to study heavy flavor hadrons in quark-gluon plasma produced in heavy ion collisions. Heavy flavor reconstruction requires that the detector have to be very thin. To satisfy these requirements, very thin (~50 micron) monolithic active pixel sensors (MAPS) are being used. The ITS will use ALPIDE (ALICE PIxel DEtector) chips. In the high-luminosity era, all of the LHC vertex detectors will be exposed to considerable radiation; they must survive and continue to work under this bombardment.  LBNL has tested ALPIDE prototypes for susceptibility to single event effects, specifically Single Event Latch-up (SEL) and Single Event Upset (SEU).

ALPIDE-1 (black circles) and ALPIDE-4 (purple and green diamonds and squares) Single Event Latchup cross sections for a range of Linear Energy Transfer (LET) values.

Using cocktail beams at the 88-inch cyclotron’s Berkeley Accelerator Space Effects (BASE) facility, the cross section of SEL events was measured as a function of ion Linear Energy Transfer. Based on results for the first full-scale sensor prototype, ALPIDE-1, design changes were made to mitigate latch-up sensitivity. The latest prototype, ALPIDE-4, was recently tested and shows lower latch-up cross sections (Figure 2). Current profiles of events and the sensitivity of different areas were also studied.

DoseNet brings radiation measurement into the classroom

The DoseNet project brings radiation and environmental science into schools throughout the Bay Area, using affordable sensors to produce real-world data in classrooms. Our network includes 17 sensor locations, including high schools throughout the Bay Area and several international universities.  DoseNet serves to establish a relationship between UC Berkeley, LBNL scientists and our member high schools, with the long-term goals of building students' science and engineering literacy while engaging and informing the community. It is part of UC Berkeley RadWatch and the LBNL Institute for Resilient Communities, under the guidance of NSD’s Kai Vetter.

Each DoseNet unit consists of a small silicon radiation sensor produced by Japanese nonprofit Radiation-Watch, attached to a Raspberry Pi computer in a 3D-printed case. The Raspberry Pi measures counts from the sensor and sends the count rate every 5 minutes to a server, where it gets added to our public website. The DoseNet team is currently working on making the WiFi more robust as well as integrating energy spectroscopy via CsI scintillator units on loan from DOD.

Postdoc Brian Plimey (right) works with a student and teacher at Oaklands’ Life Academy high school.

DoseNet is a dedicated effort to encourage students to be active participants in the challenges of better perceiving the world around us and understanding what “normal” really is.  We see interacting with young students as vital to improving community understanding of radiation and radiation risks. Our sensors give students hands-on experience with radiation detection while teaching them some tools of scientific thinking, such as analysis of large datasets and interpretation of experimental uncertainties. Under the guidance of Dr. Ali Hanks and Dr. Brian Plimley, our team of undergraduate and graduate students is actively working to expand this network across California, the US, and internationally, as well as to integrate weather data and new sensors such as air quality (PM2.5) and CO2 to further enrich the program.

Strangeness and charm come to Berkeley

[Editors note: this article was mistakenly omitted from the Oct. 2016 issue]

Co-hosted by LBNL, UC Riverside and UCLA, the “XVI Strangeness in Quark Matter 2016” was held during June 27 – July 1, 2016, at the UC Berkeley, Clark Kerr Campus. The website of the conference is at []. SQM focuses on new experimental and theoretical developments on the role of strange and heavy-flavor quarks in proton-proton and in heavy-ion collisions, and in astrophysical phenomena. New results from LHC, RHIC and other experimental programs were reported at this meeting, by 245 participants from 12 countries. The conference itself provided support for about 45 young scientists.

Charmed hadron results from RHIC and the LHC were one main focus of the conference.  STAR presented first results from the heavy flavor tracker, including measurements of charmed-hadron D0 production, including nuclear modification factor RAA and elliptic flow v2 from √sNN = 200 GeV Au+Au collisions. CMS and ALICE presented new results on D0 and quarkonium RAA from Pb+Pb collisions at √sNN = 5 TeV. These results are consistent with the scenario that charm-quark are thermalized with the hot and dense medium, mostly made of u-, d- and s-quarks at the

Members of the SQM International Advisory Committee and Local Organization Committee.
high-energy nuclear collisions.  One conclusion from the meeting was that, in order to understand the dynamical evolution of the medium and extract its thermodynamic property, we must also measure the bottom-quark hadrons in those collisions.  Bottom-quark hadrons are a cleaner probe but the low production rate is an enormous challenge, especially at RHIC energies. Bottom quarks will be the focus of future upgrades at both RHIC (sPHENIX) and the LHC (ALICE ITS upgrade). 

Nuclear Science Division colleagues Drs. X. Dong, V. Koch, A. Schmah, J. Thäder, J. Thomas, N. Xu (co-chair) were among the organizers for the conference.  The next SQM meeting will take place in Utrecht, the Netherlands, in 2017.


Howard Matis (left) presenting Berkeley High teacher Don Hubbard with a copy of the Nuclear Science Wall chart.

NSDs Howard Matis has been named a Fellow of the AAAS, for his “leadership roles in advancing physics knowledge through the APS (American Physical Society) and CPEP (Contemporary Physics Education Project), and for his development of a cosmic-ray detector used by schools nationwide.”

Howard also received the 2017 American Physical Society “Excellence in Physics Education” award for his leadership of the CPEP.  He has been involved with CPEP since 1998, and has served as president since 2012.  He was cited for “for leadership in providing educational materials on contemporary physics topics to students for over 25 years.”


The LBNL Physical Sciences Workplace Life Committee is considering the establishment of a mentoring program for new employees.  Mentorship programs have been linked to benefits to those who participate as well as for organizations that foster mentoring.  Amongst other benefits,

The PSLWC committee members, including NSD’s Brian Quiter (left) and Tamara Krake (right).
mentors report improved interpersonal relationship skills and greater satisfaction, while mentees report improved self-confidence and increased openness to feedback.  So, the Physical Sciences Workplace Life Committee (PSWLC) is exploring the viability of a mentorship program. They are asking Physical Sciences Area employees to take a brief (2 minute) survey, in order to gauge interest in a mentoring program. The potential mentoring program would be explicitly outside of the traditional supervisory chain of command and could provide guidance for further career and/or personal development.  Perspectives from both potential mentors and mentees (not necessarily mutually exclusive) are sought.


The annual 88 inch cyclotron holiday party attracted NSDers of all ages.

Newsletter Notes
Please send any comments, including story suggestions to Spencer Klein at
Previous issues of the newsletter are available at:
Copyright © 2017 Berkeley Lab, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp