Fifth-year graduate student, Jayson Vavrek, was winner of the Best Student Presentation in the Advances in Nuclear Nonproliferation Technology and Policy section of the 2018 ANS Winter Meeting.
The award was given for his presentation entitled “Warhead verification experiments using nuclear resonance fluorescence”. Vavrek worked on this research with former NSE postdoc Brian Henderson and NSE professor, Areg Danagoulian in MIT’s Laboratory for Nuclear Security and Policy (LNSP).
The presentation focused on experimentally demonstrating the LNSP’s warhead verification measurement protocol. Vavrek presented proof-of-concept measurements that were performed (using proxy objects instead of real warheads), in which they demonstrated that they could distinguish between genuine and hoax objects with high confidence in realistic measurement times. In addition, Vavrek presented on a secondary analysis of the measurements, where he used the data taken to experimentally validate the simulation code used in developing the protocol.
This work shows that the measurement technique is quantitatively well-understood, enabling future measurements and developments, and that the MIT physical cryptographic warhead verification protocol could be a feasible technique for verifying the authenticity of nuclear warheads in future arms reduction treaties.