Advanced Radiation Simulation Laboratory (ARSiL)


Lead By Prof. Jevremovic

Animation

Members

Dr. Shanjie Xiao, PostDoc, advancement in neutron transport modeling for complex geometries and FPGA acceleration (AGENT methodology), GEANT4 application in nuclear material detection

Yang Xue (visiting) graduate student, advancement in method of characteristics development for pebble bed reactors and VHTGRs (AGENT methodology)

Peter Jenkins, PhD student, advanced application of BNCT in metastasized HER2+ cancers

Micah Kingston, MS student, AGENT, MCNP5 and GEANT 4 Evaluation of TRIGA Fuel.

Research

ARSiL members are committed to a diverse range of research topics, from computational modeling to medicine, homeland security and space applications.

Advanced Computational Methods in Support to Neutron-Based Engineering
The advanced computational modeling group of ARSiL is developing novel methodologies based on the Method of Characteristics and the theory of R-functions. The synergism of various methods is named AGENT, for Arbitrary GEometry Neutron Transport. Some features of this advanced method are:

  • Any arbitrary geometry is modeled easily because of the theory of R-functions used to describe the domain
  • The application of the Method of Characteristics allows for accurate and detailed numerical description of neutron-based engineering designs
  • An advanced Graphical User Interface allows visualization of the model and results

Nuclear Engineering in Cancer Treatment
In ARSiL we are focused at various applications of nuclear engineering in cancer treatment:

  • NCT (Neutron Capture Therapy) for primarily novel application to breast cancer:

We learned that the HER2 is a hormone that is over expressed in many types of cancers. By exploiting this over expressive behavior it may be possible to coax the tumor cells into up-taking the boron doped HER2 which would allow to kill the cancerous cells with a neutron beam while doing minimal or no damage to health tissue. We are developing a theoretical analysis of the boron based NCT efficacy in such cancers (neutron beam design, boron atom concentration and neutron flux aspects related to the cancer cell apoptosis probabilities and dose distribution in boronated and boron-free tissues irradiated with thermal and epithermal neutron beams).

  • Microbeam studies and analysis of bystandard effects:

Microbeams can be used to selectively irradiate one or more cells, or only the individual compartments inside of one biological cell, with micrometer precision. Such capabilities make the systematic study and characterization of cellular signaling mechanisms possible. In particular, the response of non-targeted cells to radiation (bystander effect) has been extensively studied. Until recently majority of microbeam research has been focused on examining the effect of high-linear energy transfer (LET) alpha particles on tissue and cell behavior. Lately microbeam studies have expanded to include the electron and soft X-ray beams in order to analyze the bystander effects and characterize if the general phenomena are restricted to certain types of radiation at distinct energies.

  • Radiation treatment planning tool for education and research:

Using the Python platform we developed the comprehensive automatic computational tool for radiation dose estimates. The CT data are directly connected to MCNP or GEANT4 and the dose distribution is displayed over the CT scans. The tool is available for X ray and electron therapy analysis (broad band and parallel beam studies).

Nuclear material detection
We are investigating a new nuclear detection approach using advanced modeling and simulation of detector response in realistic environment with minimal false alarms. This development is addressing three key challenges that have stymied the detection of concealed weapons material such as highly enriched uranium (U235) and plutonium (Pu239): 1) Reliable identification of Nuclear Resonance Fluorescence (NRF) transitions of U235 and Pu239 in very low signal-to-noise-ratio environments. 2) Dynamic compensation for a varying application environment by adaptively changing the detection characteristics, and, 3) Minimal false alarms.

FPGA application in nuclear engineering
We are applying the reconfigurable computing techniques to design a specific hardware to accelerate AGENT methodology computations. It is the first time that the application of this type is used to the reactor physics and neutron transport for reactor design. For the first time we are alos applying this approach to accelerating the GEANT4.

Advancements in teaching the abstract concepts in nuclear engineering
Traditional teaching mainly includes in-class (passive) presentations of the material, and in nuclear engineering usually heavy loaded with the equations and derivations with analytical examples. The undergraduate students hardly ever learn of numerical solutions and thus the state-of-the-art approaches in nuclear engineering that best illustrate the importance of the materials presented in the course. The interactive modules once well developed allow students to be directly connected to what the nuclear industry is interested and learn how to connect the lectures presented in class with the applications of interest in the work force. We have developed a number of interactive tools, exercises and visualization examples for students to best learn the abstract concepts in nuclear engineering.