NSE - Nuclear Science & Engineering at MIT


Matteo Bucci

Matteo Bucci

Esther and Harold E. Edgerton Associate Professor
Associate Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering


The Red Lab


Matteo Bucci joined the NSE faculty as an aassociate professor in the fall of 2016. He received his MSc (2005) and PhD (2009) in Nuclear Engineering from University of Pisa, Italy. His research is focused in three main areas: diagnostics for advanced heat transfer investigations, heat transfer nanoengineering innovations to improve the safety and economic competitiveness of nuclear reactors, and integration of advanced diagnostics, simulations and machine learning tools to monitor the health of nuclear systems. Bucci is also a member of the Center for Advanced Nuclear Energy Systems (CANES), one of the MIT’s eight Low-Carbon Energy Centers.


  • DoE Distinguished Early Career Award for Nuclear Energy Projects, 2022
  • 2012 Best Paper Award from the Thermal-Hydraulics Division of the American Nuclear Society, San Diego, CA, November 2012.
  • ENEN prize 2010 for best EU PhD Thesis in Nuclear Engineering, European Nuclear Education Network, Barcellona, Spain, June 2010.
  • FLUENT/UIT prize 2006 from Fluent Inc. Italia and the Italian Thermal-Hydraulics Society (UIT) for best MSc research performed with the Fluent code, Napoli, Italia, 2006.


Development of advanced diagnostic tools and techniques

We develop advanced diagnostics to study the physics of two-phase flow and heat transfer phenomena. The research includes the development of advanced Infra-Red (IR) thermography techniques combined with High-Speed Video, the development of new materials and coatings, and the characterization of their physical properties. The modelling of multi-scale, multi-physics phenomena, i.e. combining heat transfer and optics, is key to developing and optimizing these diagnostics.

Boiling heat transfer

We design and perform experiments to shed light on the physics of boiling heat transfer and obtain detailed experimental data to inform and validate computational models used for the design and the safety analysis of nuclear reactors. To achieve a superior understanding of these phenomena, we develop advanced diagnostic tools and techniques. Measured quantities include but are not limited to: time dependent temperature, heat flux and phase distributions on the boiling surface, onset of nucleate boiling temperature and heat flux in both steady and transient conditions, bubble departure diameter and frequency, growth and wait times, nucleation site density, dry area fraction, contact line density, and heat flux partitioning. Leveraging the improved understanding achieved by these experiments, analytical models are developed to provide a faithful representation of boiling heat transfer phenomena and surface effects on the nuclear reactor fuel.

Nanotechnologies for advanced heat transfer performance

We use micro and nanotechnologies to engineer the surfaces of nuclear reactors at the micro and the nano scale. Micro and nano technologies can be used to create super-hydrophilic, super-hydrophobic, or even super-biphilic surfaces that can be optimized to improve the efficiency of the heat transfer mechanisms in every component of the nuclear power plant, leading to potentially very significant power uprates and also reduction of both direct and indirect capital costs.

Integration of sensors, simulations and machine learning tools for advanced health monitoring of complex systems

We are developing a new approach to monitor the health of nuclear systems and components. This approach integrates advanced diagnostics and simulations with machine learning tools, in order to improve situational awareness, e.g. reducing uncertainties on the actual operating conditions, to detect and diagnose faults, as well as to anticipate failures in nuclear power plants.


Selected Publications

  1. L. Zhang, J. H. Seong, M. Bucci, “Percolative Scale-Free Behavior in the Boiling Crisis”, Physical Review Letters, 122, 134501, 5 April 2019.
  2. A. Richenderfer, A. Kossolapov, J. H. Seong, G. Saccone, E. Demarly, R. Kommajosyula, E. Baglietto, J. Buongiorno, M. Bucci, “Investigation of subcooled flow boiling and CHF using high-resolution diagnostics”, Experimental Thermal and Fluid Science, 99, 35-58, 2018.
  3. M. Trojer, R. Azizian, J. Paras, T. McKrell, K. Atken, M. Bucci, J. Buongiorno, “A margin missed: The effect of surface oxidation on CHF enhancement in IVR accident scenarios”, Nuclear Engineering and Design, 335, 140-150, 2018.
  4. M. Tetrault-Friend, R. Azizian, M. Bucci, J. Buongiorno, T. McKrell, M. Rubner, R. Cohen, “Critical heat flux maxima resulting from the controlled morphology of nanoporous hydrophilic surface layers”, Appl. Phys. Lett. 108, 243102 (2016);
  5. M. Bucci, A. Richenderfer, G. Su, T. McKrell, J. Buongiorno, “A Mechanistic IR calibration technique for boiling heat transfer investigations”, International Journal of Multiphase Flow 83, 115-127, 2016.
  6. E. Lizarraga-Garcia, J. Buongiorno, M. Bucci, “An analytical film drainage model and breakup criterion for Taylor bubbles in slug flow in inclined round pipes”, International Journal of Multiphase Flow 84, 46-53, 2016.
  7. G. Su, M. Bucci, T. McKrell, J. Buongiorno, “Transient boiling of water under exponentially escalating heat inputs. Part I: Pool boiling”, International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer 96, 667-684, 2016.
  8. G. Su, M. Bucci, T. McKrell, J. Buongiorno, “Transient boiling of water under exponentially escalating heat inputs. Part II: Flow boiling”, International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer 96, 685-698, 2016.
  9. J. Lehmkuhl, S. Kelm, M. Bucci, H.J. Allelein, “Improvement of wall condensation modeling with suction wall functions for containment application”, Nuclear Engineering and Design 299, 105-111, 2016.
  10. W. Ambrosini, N. Forgione, F. Merli, F. Oriolo, S. Paci, I. Kljenak, P. Kotska, L. Vyskocil, J.R. Travis, J. Lehmkuhl, S. Kelm, Y.S. Chin, M. Bucci, “Lesson learned from the SARNET wall condensation benchmark”, Annals of Nuclear Energy 74, 153-164, 2014.
  11. M. Bucci, W. Ambrosini, N. Forgione,”Experimental and computational analysis of steam condensation in the presence of air and helium”, Nuclear Technology 181(1), 115-132, 2012.
  12. M. Bucci, P. Fillion, “Analysis of the NUPEC PSBT tests with FLICA-OVAP”, Science and Technology of Nuclear Installations (2012), Article ID 436142, 18 pages.
  13. W. Ambrosini, M. Bucci, N. Forgione, A. Manfredini, F. Oriolo, “Experiments and Modeling Techniques for Heat and Mass Transfer in Light Water Reactors”, Science and Technology of Nuclear Installations (2009), Article ID 738480, 11 pages.
  14. M. Bucci, M. Sharabi, W. Ambrosini, N. Forgione, F. Oriolo, S. He, “Prediction of transpiration effects on heat and mass transfer by different turbulence models”. Nuclear Engineering and Design 238(4), 958-974, 2008.
  15. W. Ambrosini, N.Forgione, J.C. Ferreri, M. Bucci, “The effect of wall friction in single-phase natural circulation stability at the transition between laminar and turbulent flow”, Annals of Nuclear Energy 31(16), 1505-1537, 2004.


  • 22.13 Nuclear Energy Systems
  • 22.313 Thermal Hydraulics in Power Technology
  • 22.033/22.33 Nuclear Systems Design Project