FLNP summed up results of the year

News, 12 January 2023

On 29 December, the Laboratory of Neutron Physics held a meeting of the Science and Technology Council, at which the results of work in 2022 were summed up. FLNP Director Valery Shvetsov spoke about the status of the IBR-2 Reactor, the creation of a new neutron source, and the research carried out.

He began his speech with the current status of the IBR-2 Reactor, which was shut down in October 2021 due to a malfunction of heat exchangers. Specialists expected new heat exchangers to be delivered in the autumn, but their production was delayed. The Rostechnadzor licence expired in September, and repair work cannot be carried out without a valid license. All the reactor services operated well, specialists prepared necessary documents. A new licence will be obtained by March. After that, specialists can carry out repair work to replace the heat exchangers and then submit a smaller set of documents to Rostechnadzor so that the reactor will resume its operation in October.

Valery Nikolaevich was pleased that an active life had begun in the sector of a new source and there was a significant progress towards the creation of a new neutron source. The established contacts with VNIITF (Snezhinsk) are giving scientists hope for an experimental verification of the only hypothesis proposed by Evgeny Shabalin about the power fluctuation observed at IBR-2. Fluctuations are caused by oscillations of fuel rods as a result of the dynamic effect of the pulsed mode of the reactor operation. Without a full understanding of the problem, it is difficult to move towards creating a new source. Its power will be several times higher than the power of the IBR-2, and the detected phenomenon directly depends on the power level. Specialists have to deal with this problem before making a final decision on creating a new source.

IBR-2 experimental hall

Research continued despite the fact that the reactor was not working. A new X-ray diffractometer appeared in the Department of Neutron Investigations of Condensed Matter. “I would like to congratulate the IREN team and VBLHEP colleagues who are working with us to bring the facility to the design parameters,” Valery Shvetsov highlighted. Work is underway using the capabilities of IREN in the group of Neutron Activation Analysis and Applied Research and the Division of Nuclear Physics. “If we look to the future, an important point is the creation of a prototype of an ultracold neutron source using the idea of Fyodor Shapiro and Alexander Frank,” the speaker noted. “A number of seminars were held in the Laboratory, where participants discussed this topic and the first version of such a facility using a magnetic flipper. I am very pleased that not only the Department of Nuclear Physics, but also the Department of the IBR-2 Spectrometer Complex support this activity. The Department of Neutron Investigations of Condensed Matter is actively involved in the discussion as well.”

Scientific results are numerous, publication activity did not decrease during the pandemic and reactor shutdown, but even grew. This suggests that staff members made a great groundwork. There were several defences of candidate’s and doctoral dissertations, which is especially pleasant, as the FLNP Director noted.

In conclusion, Valery Shvetsov thanked the Laboratory staff for their fruitful work, the level of which is not decreasing. He reminded that 2022 is the year of the 90th anniversary of the publication of the article by James Chadwick in which he discovered the neutron. “We will celebrate this event and see the outgoing year off. I wish you all good luck, health, family happiness, prosperity, and successful work in the new year!”