Neutrinos & Nuclear Security

with Patrick Huber, Professor of Physics
& Director of Center for Neutrino Physics, Virginia Tech

February 23, 2024, 10:10 am,
440 Goodwin Hall, Blacksburg (in-person); room 6-051, VTRC, Arlington

For remote access, register here.

Nuclear reactors are the brightest man-made neutrino sources and have been the workhorse of neutrino physics since the discovery of the neutrino. In the 1970s Lev Mikaelyan realized that neutrinos also can be used to learn about the internal state of a nuclear reactor. The past decade has seen a significant increase in the interest in reactor neutrinos, thanks to the theta-13 experiments and the search for sterile neutrinos. In particular, I will discuss case studies we have performed for the historical case of the 1990s nuclear crisis in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and for the IR-40 reactor in Iran. I will report on on-going efforts to develop suitable detectors for surface deployment close to a nuclear reactor and comment on the role coherent elastic neutrino nucleus scattering may play.

Patrick Huber is a professor of physics and an affiliate professor in the nuclear engineering program and a member of the Virginia Tech faculty since 2008. Huber conducts research on neutrino physics. He has helped build an internationally recognized program in neutrino physics both in basic science and applications to global and national security. He has authored more than 170 publications and has built an impactful research program.

In 2010, Huber co-founded the Center for Neutrino Physics at Virginia Tech and since 2018 he is serving as its director.. He was a lead developer of the GLoBES software package which is the standard for computing the physics sensitivity of many large neutrino experiments. In 2011, he performed what is currently the most accurate calculation of the reactor antineutrino spectrum emitted by nuclear reactors.

He has been a member or leader of a large number of study and planning efforts in the neutrino community, including his service on the2023 Particle Physics Project Prioritization Panel (P5), setting the research and budget priorities for the field in the United States for the next decade.

He is the recipient of multiple awards, including the Fermilab Distinguished Scholar, the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, Early Career Research Award of the U.S. Department of Energy Office of High Energy Physics and election as a Fellow of the American Physical Society. He also is a recipient of the 2024 Alumni Award for Research Excellence in the “Science or Engineering” category at Virginia Tech.

He earned a master’s degree and Ph.D. from Technical University of Munich, Germany.