NE Seminar: Optical and Radiation Detection R&D for New Capabilities in Nuclear Forensics

Date(s) - 08/31/2023
1:55 pm - 2:55 pm

Rhines Hall 125



Nuclear proliferation detection and nuclear forensics represent important areas for national security, but it can be challenging to test new concepts because of a limited relevance of available nuclear facilities, materials and testing options.

This talk will cover select examples of recent and on-going R&D efforts in support of the nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear forensics missions at Sandia National Laboratories. Specifically, we will discuss research into alternative methods for radiation detection, including optical detection of radiation, explosive characterization, converter-based solid-state sensor technologies, photovoltaics as a radiation detector, and sensor validation and verification, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of these approaches in comparison with conventional detector technologies. The talk will also cover one particular take on a career performing R&D within the national laboratory system.


Rick Harrison, Ph.D.

Principal Member of Technical Staff
Sandia National Laboratories

Dr. Rick Harrison is a scientist at Sandia National Laboratories performing research in radiation detection, computational physics, and optical diagnostics. His background includes a M.S. in Nuclear Engineering for work on prompt gamma analysis and a Ph.D. for research in ultrafast lasers/optics comparing experimental and electromagnetic simulation results for semiconductor materials, both from the University of Texas at Austin. As a member of Sandia’s Monitoring Systems and Technology R&D team since 2012, Dr. Harrison has focused on the development and testing of optical and semiconductor sensors for nuclear forensics and non-proliferation applications, spanning Teller light projects, lab-based and outdoor experimental campaigns at radiation facilities around the country, computational modeling of optical/radiation transport, and remote sensing. Dr. Harrison has also held leadership roles for campaigns on the validation and verification of nuclear detonation detection sensors for projects funded by the Departments of Energy and Defense. Dr. Harrison currently leads several R&D teams focusing on signature discovery and technology maturation from concept to deployed systems.