Research Projects

NucScholar: Natural Language Processing for Nuclear Science References

The goal of this work is to develop NucScholar, a new paradigm for the retrieval, categorization, and recommendation of nuclear physics literature. The current means by which nuclear data experts begin nuclear structure evaluations is through the identification and processing of the relevant nuclear physics literature, a process of critical importance to the nuclear data pipeline. NucScholar provides the foundation for a sea change in this procedure using a modern software framework and natural language processing tools to automatically collate and process nuclear science literature. NucScholar further expands the volume and variety of bibliographic information available to the nuclear data community without heavy reliance on human intervention. 

Shedding New Light on Scintillation Quenching

Organic scintillators are materials that emit light when excited by ionizing radiation. They have long been a primary means for detecting fission spectrum neutrons, and many new classes are scintillator materials are under development. When energy is deposited in scintillators by recoil nuclei, a process known as ionization quenching results in a reduction in the scintillation light output. The goal of this work is to measure the light yield of organic scintillators as a function of recoil particle energy. The measured light yield relations enable new insight into quenching phenomena relevant for neutrino studies, dark matter search, and other basic science research fields.

Nuclear Structure Calculations in Python

A powerful way we can describe the structure of atomic nuclei is using what is known as the rotational model of the nucleus, in which we take advantage of connections to classical rotating bodies.  The nucleus is thought of as a deformed ellipsoid, with only the very last protons and/or neutrons contributing individually to the structure we can see experimentally.  There are well-understood formalisms to describe the nucleus in this way, but the majority of the computer codes that exist to calculate the structure of a nucleus are in quite dated programming languages.  A trainee working on this project will work with LBNL scientists to create modern-day computer programs that probe the structure of nuclei.

 Installing and Commissioning a New Data Acquisition System at the Berkeley Gas-filled Separator

In this project, a trainee will assist in installing and commissioning state-of-the-art digital electronics for the Berkeley Gas-filled Separator (BGS). The trainee will learn about digital electronics, how to calibrate silicon and germanium particle detectors, how to perform experiments with the BGS, and will assist with the data analysis of our upcoming experimental campaign studying the nuclear properties of the heaviest elements. Information on the group can be found on our website at

Atom-at-a-time Chemistry with FIONA

Investigating the chemical properties of the heaviest elements involves studying single atoms at accelerator complexes. In this project, a trainee will learn how to make elements not found here on earth. They will assist in performing chemical experiments on these elements using the Berkeley Gas-filled Separator and the FIONA mass analyzer, aimed at providing the first qualitative results on chemistry of the heaviest elements. The trainee will also learn how to process and interpret data from these experiments. Information on the group can be found on our website at

Developing Cryo-Electronics

The trainee will learn about the basics of electronics.  The trainee will be testing the operational characteristics of various electronic components operating in cryogenic enviroments (e.g. in liquid nitrogen at 77 K).  As more and more electronics circuitries are now operating in low-temperature environment (e.g. in space and in quantum computers), there is a need to understand their performance characteristics at such temperature. 

Cooling Design for a Cutting-Edge EIC Detector

The goal of this project is to develop cooling strategies for the silicon tracking detector for the upcoming Electron-Ion Collider (EIC).  The tracker will consist of barrel vertexing and sagitta layers, as well as disc arrays forward and backward.  You will work at LBNL studying cooling designs for both barrel and discs, based on the heat load of the silicon sensor which is being designed.  We aim for air cooling, to minimize the material traversed by the particles. Thermal properties will be explored by forcing air through carbon foam supports sandwiched between carbon fiber sheets.  Lab work will include use of power supplies, thermocouples, manometers, and data acquisition systems.  Students will work together on measurements and data analysis, and present the findings to the group.  Engineering design simulations will also be carried out. 

Separation and purification of  Ti-44

A trainee on this project will learn to separate and purify short-lived daughter isotopes of Ti-44 using liquid-liquid extraction. This isotope is important in enabling positron emission tomography studies. For more information about the group and the research, please check out the BioActinide Chemistry Group webpage.

Relativistic Heavy Ion Physics

This group is active in relativistic heavy ion physics, utilizing data from the STAR experiment at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, with an emphasis on understanding the phase transition of nuclear matter to a Quark-Gluon Plasma. In addition, preliminary work is being done on the design and physics of the Electron Ion Collider (EIC).

A trainee in the group will work in one of two projects. The first is the analysis of data taken with the STAR detector during the Beam Energy Scan. The second is the simulations and prototyping for the design of detectors for the EIC. Depending on the project, the student would gain experience in programming in modern computer languages (C++, Python), analyzing large data sets, detector prototype construction, and operation.

Low Level Radio-Assays

The trainees will learn techniques to use sensitive radiation detectors to perform non-destructive radioactive assays of materials at the Berkeley Low Background Facility.  The trainees will also learn how to analyze the low-statistics data acquired from these detectors.  These techniques are commonly used in experiments that search for new physics an underground laboratories and environmental monitoring.

Development of Novel Nuclear Targetry Methods

Trainees in this group will learn to produce and characterize novel "incorporated" targets for heavy element reactions. These thin-film materials are expected to handle higher beam intensities than the current target techniques. Students will be trained in various thin film analysis techniques, such as SEM, XRD, and alpha-thickness measurements. They will also support the heavy element reaction beamtimes needed to test these targets, and analyze the resulting data. For more information, please see the Esker Lab.

Separation and purification of Ac-225 from Ac-227

Ac-225 is a radioactive isotope that is of enormous importance to medical imaging. Unfortunately, it often comes contaminated with Ac-227, an unwanted isotope. A trainee on this project will learn to use liquid chromatography to separate and purify Ac-225 from Ac-227. For more information about the group and the research, please check out the BioActinide Chemistry Group webpage.