Next Generation Portable Antineutrino Detectors using Semiconductors by Dr Shikha Prasad

Location and Date: 
Wednesday, 16 November, 2022, 04:00 PM, Seminar Hall, Second Floor, DESE Building

Next Generation Portable Antineutrino Detectors using Semiconductors

In this talk, a new mechanism for detecting reactor antineutrinos based on coherent-elastic-ν-nucleus-scatter (CEνNS) will be discussed. Antineutrinos are released from the beta decay of fission products and can provide important information about fission rates. Prior studies have illustrated that antineutrinos can be used to determine a nuclear reactor’s power (rate of fission), composition of the reactor (amount of uranium, plutonium), and the age of the fuel (beginning/end of cycle and cooling time). However, these particles are extremely evasive and suffer from very poor rates of detection. The existing state-of-the-practice based on inverse-beta-decay (IBD) detectors deploy large ton-kiloton scale detectors. The IBD reaction mechanism has an intrinsic threshold of detection of 1.806 MeV and its microscopic cross-section varies from 10-43 cm2 to 10-43 cm2 between 2 MeV and 8 MeV. In contrast, the CEνNS reaction has no intrinsic threshold but it is limited by the threshold of the charge collection process, i.e. detection of the energy deposited in the detector. The microscopic cross-section for CEνNS reaction is 10 to 100 times larger than that of IBD, depending on the antineutrino energy and the type of detector material used. In this talk, calculations of response from germanium and silicon based CEνNS detectors will be shown with a threshold of detection of 20-eV nuclear recoil. A 20-eV nuclear recoil can provide a threshold of detection of 0.82 MeV in Ge and 0.51 MeV in Si. In terms of reaction rates, an improvement of over 20 times with Ge based CEνNS detectors, and over 4 times with Si based CEνNS detectors over the existing IBD detectors can be achieved without any background radiation. Thus, the CEνNS detectors can be the next generation of antineutrino detectors providing improved efficiency, smaller sizes, and better sensitivity to the reactor antineutrinos spectrum.

Short Biography

Dr. Shikha Prasad (P.E.) is a Nuclear Physicist at Schlumberger. She has co-authored nearly 30 peer-reviewed publications, been cited by over 130 times, graduated nine M.S. and Ph.D. students, and has led several projects as a Principal Investigator. Prior to this, she was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Nuclear Engineering at Texas A&M University (TAMU) and the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur. She received a Ph.D. degree from the Department of Nuclear Engineering & Radiological Sciences and a graduate certificate in Science Technology and Public Policy from the Ford School of Public Policy, both at the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor in 2012. She also received an M.S.E degree in 2007, and a B.S.E. in 2006 from the Department of Nuclear Engineering & Radiological Sciences, University of Michigan–Ann Arbor. She has also had experience working at Carnegie Mellon University, ERIN Engineering, Oak Ridge National Laboratories, Hitachi-GE Japan, and Bhabha Atomic Research Center – India.

Dr. Prasad has been an active member of the American Nuclear Society (ANS) and its committees/divisions such as the Nuclear Nonproliferation Public Policy Division, the Professional Engineers Exam Committee, the Nominating Committee, Local Section Committee, the Bylaws and Rules Committee. She served as the Chair of the ANS Local Sections Committee 2016-2017 and 2019-2021. She was selected for 2022 DOE-NE Distinguished Early Career Program and was awarded the American Nuclear Society Certificate of Governance in 2021. She is also the recipient of the 2017 ANS Young Member Excellence Award. She received the Early Career Research Award – Department of Science and Technology, India in 2016, the University of Michigan Rackham Barbour Fellowship in 2011, and the University of Michigan College of Engineering Regents Fellowship in 2006. She has served as the academic adviser for the student chapters of the Women in Nuclear at Texas A&M 2019-2022 and the Institute of Nuclear Materials Management and the Indian Nuclear Society at IIT –Kanpur.