NRL Seed Program

NRL Seed Program

As a means to cultivate new research areas and to obtain data in support of pursuing externally funded research proposals, the NRL now provides MIT faculty and research staff limited no-cost access to MITR irradiation, post-irradiation evaluation (PIE) services, neutron activation analysis and gamma spectroscopy capabilities, and materials characterization instruments with support for irradiated materials. To take advantage of this seed program, interested researchers are asked to submit a brief synopsis of their proposed research. Four categories of experiments will be considered for funding under the seed program: (1) Small-Scale Dedicated Irradiation Experiments, (2) Shared Use In-core Experiments, (3) Neutron Beams and Instruments, and (4) Materials Characterization and PIE. Brief descriptions of these experiments are found below and more detailed information on NRL facilities and capabilities can be found in the Facilities section.

Note that Categories 1, 3, and 4 are for experiments that will be performed independently for only Seed Proposal funding for the NRL activities. For Category 2 experiments, Seed Program experiments will be performed in conjunction with an externally funded irradiation or characterization campaign. For example, a successful Category 2 proposal could be given a portion of space within a host irradiation capsule or dedicated irradiation facility. Category 2 opportunities and experimental variables are therefore dependent on the currently funded experiments at the NRL. Information on these experiments will be regularly updated online for planning purposes. Due to higher cost and scheduling constraints, Category 2 experiments will be less common and combined faculty/staff/student participation is encouraged.

Experiment Category Descriptions

Category 1 – Small-Scale Dedicated Irradiation Experiments:

A) Pneumatic rabbit “1PH1”: 2.5 cm diameter by about 7.5 cm long useful space, irradiations from minutes to several days, predominantly thermal flux up to 7.7×1012 n/cm2 s.

B) Pneumatic rabbit “2PH1”: 3.5 cm diameter by about 15 cm long useful space, irradiations from minutes to weeks, thermal flux of up to 5.6×1013 n/cm2 s and fast flux of up to 3.5×1012 n/cm2 s.

C) Vertical graphite “3GV” facility: 7.6 cm diameter by about 50 cm long useful space, irradiations from hours to full cycle (about 10 weeks), predominantly thermal flux up to 1.2×1013 n/cm2 s.

D) Neutron activation analysis for elemental composition determination and gamma spectroscopy: several HPGe detectors available for counting with technician support for spectrum analysis, absolute elemental analysis available using NIST traceable standards.

NRL contact for Category 1 experiments: Dr. Michael Ames (

Category 2 –Shared Use of In-Core Irradiation Experiments

A) In-core water loop: 3.5 cm diameter by about 50 cm long total useful space with PWR or BWR coolant chemistry, temperature and pressure with peak neutron fluxes about 5×1013 n/cm2 s thermal and 1×1014 n/cm2 s E > 0.1 MeV, minimum duration 1 reactor cycle (about 10 weeks).

B) In-core inert gas irradiation: irradiation in “In-core Sample Assembly” (ICSA - permanent facility with capsules designed for a particular irradiation) or “Dedicated facility” (custom-designed facility to accommodate larger capsules or other design requirements not achievable in the ICSA), at temperatures between 300 and 850 °C (higher temperatures are possible in a dedicated facility).

NRL contact for Category 2 experiments: Dr. David Carpenter (

Category 3 – Neutron Beams and Instruments

A) Two external thermal neutron beams are available with and without monochromation for neutron imaging, detector testing and nuclear data research. Triple-axis neutron diffractometer is available for single-crystal or powder diffraction measurements.

NRL contact for Category 3 experiments: Dr. Boris Khaykovich (

Category 4 – Materials Characterization Instruments and Post Irradiation Evaluation Services

A) Materials characterization for irradiated samples: A laser profilometer and SEM with EDX detector are available for characterizing surface morphology, microstructure and elemental composition. Digital balances and calipers for weight and dimension measurement, a low speed sectioning saw and polisher for sample preparation, vacuum coating system for Au coating, laser flash analysis (LFA447) for thermal properties measurement, low magnification optical microscopy and a high-temperature furnace for tritium desorption measurements are also available.

NRL contact for Category 4 experiments: Dr. Gordon Kohse (

Note: Seed Proposals can request access to the PIE facilities for appropriately trained non-NRL staff or limited characterization by NRL staff. It may also be possible for the NRL to provide space in the reactor exclusion area for user-provided instrumentation to facilitate measurements on irradiated materials.

Proposal Submission

Submissions are limited to MIT faculty and research staff, with one proposal per Principal Investigator per submission cycle. Proposers are encouraged to seek guidance from NRL contacts for feasibility during the proposal preparation process. Proposals should include the following information: project description, requested facility access, collaborators, student involvement, benefits, and justification for seed program support including prospects for generating long-term funding. Proposals must be submitted using the submission form found here.

Submission Deadlines

November 15th, 2019

April 15th, 2020