MIT Reports to the President 1998-99


US News and World Report again rated the department number one in its field. The consistency of this ranking over many years has reflected the quality of scholarship by students and faculty in the department.

The Department's strategic plan was completed and approved by the department faculty. The plan also received a very favorable response from our visiting committee and the MIT administration. The department is now in the process of implementation and will review and update the plan on a yearly basis.

One issue in which we have already seen progress is in the area of graduate recruiting. Professor Neil Todreas has assumed the responsibility for this task and, with the help of Dr. E. Chaniotakis, the department has experienced a significant increase in graduate applications (up 53 percent) and new enrollments (up 75 percent).

The department has also acquired a major new experimental facility, a pre-owned (i.e. slightly used) $3.5M, 50 MeV racetrack microtron electron accelerator from the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. The facility is currently in storage in NW13 as we develop funding to build a new laboratory. This facility, which we plan to operate as an Institute wide facility, will have many applications in the area of bionuclear technology and radiation science and technology.


Twenty-seven students were enrolled in the undergraduate program during the past year. This included six sophomores, ten juniors, eight seniors, and three fifth-year students. Seven students completed requirements for the bachelor's degree in nuclear engineering.

Professor Andy Kadak, recently appointed as professor of the practice in nuclear engineering, has taken over the role of undergraduate program coordinator. Several related activities have been initiated: a major overhaul of our undergraduate curriculum, a fairly complete remodeling of our undergraduate laboratory and the development of a series of IAP lectures on mathematics and physics on basic topics which many of our undergraduates feel they are lacking for their preparation for graduate school.


The graduate program totaled 103 students during the fall term. Of this number, 20 were enrolled for their first term. Forty percent are specializing in radiation science and technology; 38 percent are working in fission and energy studies, and 22 percent in fusion. The department awarded 11 masters, 2 engineers, 1 M.Eng. and 16 doctoral degrees during the academic year.

Professor Ian Hutchinson developed and taught a new course 22.105 "Electromagnetic Interactions" as part of the core curriculum.

Professor Jacqueline Yanch completed her move to NW14. Her new office and laboratory space, combined with Professor Cory's activities in adjacent space, serve to form a defacto "Center for Bionuclear Technology." There are over 20 students, 9 researchers and post-docs, as well as several visitors involved in research problems associated with Professors Yanch and Cory. This is a very promising start to expanding our bionuclear activities as called for in our strategic plan.


Professor George Apostolakis was awarded the Tommy Thompson Award by the Nuclear Installation Safety Division of the American Nuclear Society. The Tommy Thompson Award recognizes persons who have made outstanding contributions to the field of nuclear installations safety. Professor Apostolakis was appointed to the newly formed International Nuclear Technology Commission (ILK) that will advise the governments of three German states (Baden-Wurttemberg, Bavaria, and Hesse) on nuclear technology matters. He was also elected to serve as vice-chairman of the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Professor Ken Czerwinski recently received a DOE Defense Programs Young Investigators Award for his work on the environmental behavior of actinides. The award was sponsored through Los Alamos National Laboratory. He organized a symposium on the environmental behavior of f-elements at the Rare Earth Research Conference. He was involved in a Nation Research Council review of radioactive waste separation techniques.

The Ruth and Joel Spira Award for Distinguished Teaching was presented to Professor Ian Hutchinson. This award acknowledges the tradition of high quality engineering education at MIT.

The American Nuclear Society (ANS) MIT Student Chapter Outstanding Teaching Award was presented to Dr. John Bernard.

Professor Otto Harling was invited by the Argentinean Atomic Energy Commission to review Argentina's capabilities for neutron capture theory for cancer.

Professor Chen was an invited lecturer to the prestigious "Les Houches" Physics Summer School in French Alps in late May of 1998. He gave three lectures entitled "Dynamics of Bulk Supercooled and Interfacial Water". He was the co-chair of the XIth International Congress on Small-Angle Scattering held in Brookhaven National Laboratory in May 1999 attended by 350 scientists from 28 countries. He was an invited lecturer to an International Symposium on "The Liquid State of Matter" held in the International Center for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy in late June 1999. He has been appointed as the chairman of the Technical Review Committee of the Taiwan Research Reactor II project by the Taiwan government. The 20 MW new research reactor is schedule to begin operation in 2005.

Professor Mujid Kazimi was a member of a DOE panel to review the R&D roadmap for the Accelerator Based Transmutation of Nuclear Waste (ATW). He continues the chairmanship of the Hanford Tank Waste Panel for DOE-Richland, which he had chaired in the period 1990-95 and resumed in 1997. He organized two sessions for the June Meeting of the American Nuclear Society, one on thorium fuels for Light Water Reactor and the other on Lead-Bismuth Cooled reactors.

Professor Sidney Yip is serving on two advisory boards at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Physics Division in the Physics and Astrophysics Directorate and the Chemistry Division in the Chemistry and Materials Science Directorate. He was one of the organizers of a symposium on multiscale materials modeling at the International Conference on Advanced Materials, sponsored by the International Union of Materials Research Societies, held during June 1999 in Beijing, China. Three students and three visiting scientists from his research group attended the meeting. One of the students, Ju Li, received one of 14 Young Research Scientist awards given among the 33 symposia. Mr. Li also was a silver medallist at the annual fall meeting of the Materials Research Society during December 1998 in Boston.

Professor Cory and his colleagues continue to make rapid advances in the theory, practice and implementation of quantum information processing. These include the first demonstrations of quantum error correction and of quantum simulation on a quantum computer. These experiments go a long way towards demonstrating that quantum information processors can be realized. Indeed, recently we have taken delivery of the first commercial quantum information processor, an NMR based system that we developed in collaboration with Bruker Instruments, Inc. and which forms the basis for our new 6-qubit quantum computer (by far the largest functional quantum information processor).

Professor Cory and Dr. Raymond Laflamme (LANL) organized a 4 day workshop on NMR and Quantum Information Processing that was fully funded by ARO and NSA, and held at Harvard Smithsonian Center of Atomic and Molecular Physics. The workshop was the first to bring together the NMR and QIP communities. It was very well attended and received. He also has joined the editorial boards of the Journal of Magnetic Resonance and Concepts in Magnetic Resonance.

Professor Cory has explored the practicality of having students in graduate courses collectively write peer reviewed scientific papers. Two papers were written and published by students in an advanced NMR course (22.582), the first describing a novel means of analyzing multiple pulse experiments and the second describing how NMR spectroscopy can be used to demonstrate fundamental issues of quantum mechanics. The experience was quite positive and this is now an integral part of 22.582. The two papers are:

Counting Echoes: An Application of a Complete Reciprocal-Space Description of NMR Spin Dynamics, R. J. Nelson, Y. Maguire, D. Caputo, G. Leu, Y. Kang, M. Pravia, D. Tuch, Y. Weinstein, and D. G. Cory, Concepts in Magnetic Resonance, 1998, 10, 331—341.

Observing Quantum Behavior in a Spin System by NMR, M. Pravia, R. J. Nelson, Y. Weinstein, and D. G. Cory, Concepts in Magnetic Resonance, 1999, 11, 225—238.

Professor Cory has built a new teaching laboratory for exploring the physics and engineering of medical imaging. The laboratory houses demonstrations of optical, NMR, ultrasound, X-ray and PET imaging. This will be used to augment the lectures of 22.058, a new undergraduate offering by the nuclear engineering department.

Professor Todreas is a member of INPO's National Nuclear Accreditation Board. He also serves on the USDOE Nuclear Energy Research Advisory Committee (NERAC).

Professor Michael Golay continued on INPO's Advisory Council.

Professor Jeffrey Freidberg is serving as a member of the DOE's Fusion Energy Science Advisory Committee (FESAC) which provides advice and guidance to DOE Director of the Office of Science, Dr. Martha Krebs, on the national fusion program. He has been elected president-elect of the Nuclear Engineering Department Head's Organization (NEDHO), a group whose role is to coordinate and develop national policies and positions with respect to the academic community's view of nuclear engineering education.

Professors Mujid Kazimi and Jeffrey Freidberg were co-editors of the document Nuclear Engineering: A Vision for the 21st Century, a publication by NEDHO. This document, prepared at the request of Under Secretary Dr. Ernest Moniz, Department of Energy, outlines the current status and future opportunities for the nuclear engineering profession in the USA.



Professor Mujid Kazimi is leading a collaboration with other faculty members at MIT and Tsinghua University that aims to provide China's growing nuclear energy sector with a firmer foundation for development of the nuclear safety standards. That includes the evolution of the list of design basis accident to be more risk informed, and the application of innovative technologies for safety monitoring of plant operations. In April of 1999 the project organized an international workshop on these subjects in Beijing. About half of the 60 attendants came for the various China nuclear reactor design, operation and regulatory bodies.

With support from the INEEL University Research Consortium, a new program was initiated in October 1998; a major three-year program for development of advanced nuclear technology through an MIT/INEEL Strategic Nuclear Research Collaboration (SNRC). The aim of the SNRC is to investigate options that promote nuclear technology as a source of electricity in the next century. The program has a total funding at MIT of $1.5M per year tied with about $1M funding at INEEL. Four projects were funded under this initiative starting in October 1998: (1) The Modular Gas Cooled Reactor (MPBR) under the direction of Professors Andrew Kadak and Ronald Ballinger, (2) The Lead-bismuth Cooled Actinide Fueled Reactor (AFR) under the direction of Professors Neil Todreas and Mujid Kazimi, (3) Proliferation-resistant Thorium-Uranium Fuel for Light Water Reactors under the direction of

Professors Mujid Kazimi and Michael Driscoll and (4) Performance-Based Regulation for Efficient Safety under the direction of Professors George Apostolakis and Michael Golay.

Professors Neil Todreas and Michael Driscoll completed research on advanced reactor designs involving novel containment cooling concepts for Korea Electric Power Research Institute and advanced boiling water reactor designs for Tokyo Electric Power Company.

Professor Kenneth Russell continued his collaboration with Professor V. Sugakov of the University of Kiev on the kinetics of self-organizing systems. Visits were exchanged and several oral and written presentations were made.

Professor John Meyer and Zaichun Feng of the MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering completed a project that provided an interpretation of sound and vibration data obtained from two operating Korean nuclear power plants. The final report also contained suggestions about possible actions to rid the plants of the most objectionable sounds and about analyses for assessing candidate silencers. Professor Meyer has also worked to lead subtasks in two additional projects: [Thorium Fuel (Mujid Kazimi)] and [Pebble Bed Reactor (Andy Kadak & Ron Ballinger)].

Professor George Apostolakis has completed a research project that demonstrated how component aging could be incorporated in probabilistic risk assessments. A major theoretical finding is that the concept of failure rate is not defined when the gradually deteriorating strength of the component becomes smaller than the normal load. When failure is the result of abnormal transient loads, however, approximate models based on failure rates can be developed. He continued his work on improving nuclear power plant efficiency through the improvement of work processes. His research group is currently working with a utility to develop a work process for organizational learning. A root-cause analysis of past incidents has been performed; it shows that communication, formalization, and goal prioritization are among the most important organizational factors. He initiated a new research project whose goal is to model severe accident management in nuclear power plants. Professors Apostolakis and Golay initiated a research project to develop a risk-informed, performance-based regulatory system for Department of Energy facilities. Three case studies have been selected and a workshop is being planned to elicit stakeholder input regarding the objectives that such a system ought to have.

Radiation Science and Technology

Quantum Information Processing, QIP–Professor Cory and his students continue to explore NMR approaches to quantum information processing through a set of collaborations with Dr. T. Havel (HMS), Professor Seth Lloyd (Mechanical Engineering), Dr. Raymond Laflamme (LANL), Dr. E. Knill (LANL), Dr. J. Yepez (AFRL). Some of our recent accomplishments include:

We have also articulated two new schemes of extending the success of NMR approaches to QIP to larger systems and have received funding to explore a solid state device capable of coherently controlling 10—30 qubits, and a lattice gas quantum computer capable of addressing thousands of small quantum computers in parallel.

The laboratory remains at the forefront of experimental investigations of quantum information processing, and is capable of exploring by far the largest Hilbert spaces of any experimental effort. Presently we are working with a custom designed 6-qubit quantum processor.

NMR microscopy–we have succeeded in obtaining NMR images at 2 x 2 x 8 Ám3 resolution (the highest resolution every achieved) and we have applied this to the non-invasive study of anatomical changes associated with genetic mutations in fruit-flies. We are continuing to explore the biological implications of this novel technology.

NMR diffusive scattering–we have demonstrated and published the first example of multiple scattering in NMR and shown that this can be used to characterize the local anisotropy of confined spaces. Dr. Pabitra Sen (Schlumberger-Doll Research Laboratory) will spend a year on sabbatical leave with us at MIT to extend these methods to obtain a complete characterization of local structures in complex media.

NMR MAS gradient of solids–with collaborators at Bruker Instruments Inc. we have designed and built the first solid state NMR probes with a magnetic field gradient that is compatible with both high resolution spectroscopy and magic angle sample spinning. We have then demonstrated the first examples of gradient enhanced NMR of solids.

NMR MAS gradients of heterogeneous semi-solids–we continue studies of tissues, cultured cells, granular media and other heterogeneous materials by high resolution MAS NMR. Over the past year we have developed methods that permit the measurement of both the length scale and strength of background gradients that are introduced by spatially varying magnetic susceptibilities. We expect to characterize both the structure and dynamics of these highly complex samples by extensions of these methods. These studies are in collaboration with Dr. Samuel Singer.

NMR high resolution coherent scattering–we continue to develop NMR compatible extremely strong (100,000 G/cm) magnetic field gradients to permit structural studies of solids. Professor Cory's laboratory remains the only place in the world where such strong magnetic field gradients have been successfully used in NMR, and we continue to advance both the instrumentation and methods. We hope that eventually these methods can be applied much like neutron scattering, but at longer length scales (0.2—100 nm) and longer time scales (from ms— seconds).

NMR imaging with laser polarized Xe–In collaboration with Dr. R. Walsworth (Harvard Smithsonian) we have demonstrated that high quality NMR images can be obtained at very low fields (20 G) using optically polarized Xe as a tracer. There are a wide variety of diagnostic applications ranging from medical imaging to characterizing engineering systems and flow.

NMR imaging of fluid transport through granular media–in collaborations with Professor Cullighan (Civil and Environmental Engineering) and Professor Czerwinski (Nuclear Engineering) the transport of lanthanides and the displacement of contaminants in model sands, soils and resins are being studied by NMR.

The NMR implementations of quantum information processing are so well advanced now that Professor Cory's laboratory invites both undergraduates from the CMSE program and senior high school students from the RSI program to work in the laboratory over the summer on projects that demonstrate features of QIP. This last year Jeff Gore (CMSE) developed pulse sequences for both a variety of quantum gates and quantum error correction, and Chris Ackerman (RSI) helped define an NMR version of the quantum eraser paradox. This year Craig (CMSE), Swami (CMSE) and Gabriel (RSI) are working together to demonstrate the capacity of a quantum channel, the conversion of a quantum channel to a classical channel, and the role of bit commitment in quantum communication.

Together with Ciya Liao (PhD student) and Professor Francesco Mallamace of the University of Messina, Italy (a visiting research collaborator) Professor Chen has discovered a simultaneous existence in the phase diagram of a copolymer micellar solution a binodal line with a critical point, a percolation line, and a kinetic glass transition line. They have proposed a model of interaction potential consisting of a hard core plus a short-range attraction, which account for the complete phase behavior.

Professor Otto Harling, along with medical collaborators at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), Drs. Paul Busse and Robert Zamenhof, Professor Peter Griffith of Mechanical Engineering, several staff of the Nuclear Reactor Laboratory, and six MIT graduate students, has continued research in the area of neutron capture therapy for cancer. Clinical trials for a particularly refractory form of brain cancer (glioblastoma multeforme) and for metatstatic melanoma on the extremities and in the brain were continued. The goal of these Phase I trials is to determine the maximum tolerable dose so that Phase II trials efficacy can be initiated. Tumor control has been observed for two peripheral melanoma subjects and for one subject with a melanoma brain metastasis even though the doses delivered were well below the maximum tolerable level.

In a separate but related project, $2.5 M in construction funding has been granted to the Nuclear Reactor Laboratory for a new medical irradiation facility to be used for neutron capture therapy at the MIT Reactor. The facility is based on a design developed at the NRL and uses a fission converter to produce a high intensity and high purity epithermal neutron beam suited for neutron capture therapy. When the new facility is completed in one year, the MIT/BIDMC group will have the best beam for neutron capture therapy and will be well positioned to conduct advanced clinical trials and eventual routine therapy. Construction work on this new facility is on schedule.


Under the direction of Professor Ian Hutchinson, the Alcator C-Mod tokamak continued its studies in high-performance, compact magnetic plasma confinement. Experiments have now established that the core rotation observed on Alcator C-Mod arises from transport processes, not just radio frequency wave absorption. In other words, the plasma spontaneously spins itself up. Understanding this process is key to understanding tokamak anomalous transport and its suppression. New dynamic control baffles have been installed that can change the divertor neutral gas flow during a plasma. They show that the impurities are strongly influenced by this flow but that the main-chamber neutral pressure is relatively unaffected. The main RF heating power has been doubled by the addition of a new antenna. This will permit experiments to be performed at higher pressure, probing MHD limits. The high-resolution measurements of the sharp edge of the plasma are showing remarkable structure in the transport barrier there. This structure apparently includes strong nonuniformity on flux surfaces of trace impurities. These observation shave important implications for the plasma flow in the barrier. The proposal to install 3MW of Lower Hybrid power to permit quasi-steady-state exploration of Advanced Tokamak operation with high fractions of self-generated current has been favorably reviewed. This initiative is anticipated to become an important part of the program, as we attempt to demonstrate the feasibility of steady-state tokamak operation attractive for future reactor application.

Professor Riccardo Betti (on sabbatical from U. Rochester and a former nuclear engineering PhD graduate) and Professor Jeffrey Freidberg have initiated several research projects concerned with the problem of poloidal flow in axisymmetric toroidal magnetic fusion systems. Their work shows that many high performance tokamak plasmas will experience a sonic transition through the poloidal Alfven speed which will result in poloidally non-axisymmetric, radial contact discontinuities in pressure, density, and poloidal flow velocity. They also showed that in spite of previous beliefs, no steady state shock wave solutions exist. At most transient shocks could exist which, on a relatively short time evolve to shock-free states exhibiting contact discontinuities.

Environment and Waste Technology and Policy

Professor Czerwinski continued his research efforts on areas involving nuclear waste. A joint project with Ecole Nationale Superieur de Chimie de Paris (ENSCP) and the Coordination Chemistry/Separation Science group in the Chemistry Division at Argonne National Laboratory examined the role of temperature in the behavior of actinides in repository systems.

The project with LLNL on weapons grade Pu disposition was completed with the graduation of Gary Cerefice. The project utilized laboratory data to determine the behavior of Pu in Yucca Mountain. Combining chemical and neutronic codes we evaluated the probability of a critical event through the disposal of weapons grade Pu. The results show that if the Pu behavior is controlled by ceramic dissolution, then Pu criticality could be controlled solely by the addition of Gd.

This project was supported by Electricite de France (EDF). Through a project on Th fuel headed by Professor Kazimi, investigations on the behavior of Th fuel in a repository was initiated. Project results evaluated the different radionuclide compositions of uranium and thorium based fuel.

The project on NMR imaging with Professor Cory continues to yield results. Images of metal ion transport through different natural media have been collected and analyzed. The system has also been used to evaluate the behavior of ion specific resins. Two presentations at international conferences from the NRM imaging work will be given in late 1999.

A new project on the interaction of bacteria with uranium began with Professor Martin Polz of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Initial results indicate bacteria from the field site are reducing uranium. Current experiments are investigating the use of indicator dyes for quick analysis of bacteria mediated reduction. Additionally, studies in isotope fractionalization by bacteria are being performed in cooperation with Earth and Planetary Science.

Professors Golay and Hansen continued work on the representation of the interactions between management policies and nuclear plant performance.


Extracurricular NED student functions centered on the MIT American Nuclear Society Student Branch. There have been many social and athletic events during the year, reflecting the interests of its members. The Monday Afternoon Seminar Series, NED Orientation for incoming students, holiday party, and international dinner are a few of the successful events from the past year.

The MIT Chapter of the Alpha Nu Sigma Society, a national honor society for students in applied nuclear science and nuclear engineering, recognized 6 graduate students and 5 undergraduate students for their outstanding academic achievement. The MIT Health Physics Society Student Branch's activities are focused on environmental radiation transport, radiobiology, and radiation detection and measurement.

Karen Noyes and Christi Sherman, two students from the Actinide Research Group headed by Professor Czerwinski, were selected to participate in the Actinide Sciences Summer School at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The students participated in intensive laboratory research at LLNL. The cooperation established will be applied to the student's graduate program. Professor Czerwinski taught at the Actinide Sciences Summer School summer for two weeks.

Several students were recognized at the annual international dinner/awards ceremony. Virginia Curran and Karen Noyes shared the Roy Axford Award for outstanding academic achievement by a senior in nuclear engineering.

Amanda Johnsen and Nina Kutsuzawa shared the Irving Kaplan Award, which recognizes academic achievement by a junior in nuclear engineering.

Mark van der Helm and Wei Cai in recognition of their excellence in academic performance and professional promise will share the Manson Benedict Fellowship.

Jacopo Buongiorno and Khashayer Shadman shared the Outstanding TA Award in recognition of exceptional services to education by a teaching assistant.

Roberto Accorsi, Heather MacLean, Loreto Ansaldo, Nina Kutsuzawa and Lingyun Shao shared the Outstanding Student Service Award, in recognition of exceptional services to the students, the department, and the entire MIT community.

More information about this department can be found on the World Wide Web at

Jeffrey P. Freidberg

MIT Reports to the President 1998-99