CORDIS - EU research results

Novel Opaque Scintillator Technology for Nuclear Industry Imaging based on Anti-Matter Detection

Project description

Monitoring nuclear reactions with an opaque detector

The EU-funded AntiMatter-OTech project aims to develop novel technology for directly monitoring nuclear reactions inside nuclear power plant cores. The technology will rely on a radically new and totally counterintuitive approach to radiation detection inspired by neutrino physics research. The core idea is to confine and collect light near its creation point with an opaque scintillator and a dense array of optical fibres. This technique can tolerate the high background noise levels close to the reactor, improving the signal-to-noise ratio of anti-neutrino detection by a factor of 10. AntiMatter-OTech’s technology will provide information on any nuclear reactions emitting neutrinos, which take place in spent nuclear fuel containers, fuel pools, waste disposal sites, and even nuclear warheads and fusion reactors.


We propose to deliver a novel technology for the nuclear industry to open the possibility of direct monitoring of nuclear reactions inside nuclear power plant cores. The new technology centres on a radically-new and totally counter-intuitive approach to radiation detection that has arisen from neutrino physics research. As of today, direct and rapid in-situ measurement of nuclear reactor fission activity is not possible. Our technology is expected to make this possible by using the copious neutrinos that stream out of nuclear reactors. Achieving this leap relies on the paradigm shifting nature of our approach. Detection of radiation makes extensive use of light emitting materials known as scintillators. These are nearly always transparent, to allow the light to be seen and measured. Our radically-new approach is to use an opaque scintillator, coupled with a lattice of optical fibres to extract the light. This technique naturally provides high-resolution imaging of anti-matter annihilation plus many other types of radiation (e.g. betas, gammas, neutrons), improving the signal to noise ratio of anti-neutrino detection by a factor >10x. Consequently, our technology would be able to tolerate the high background environment close to a reactor. The civil nuclear industry will benefit in a range of ways from safety and societal reassurance to operational efficiencies with a direct economic return. Our technology will also be able to provide remote monitoring and information on any nuclear processes that emit neutrinos, opening many potential new markets. Examples include spent nuclear fuel containers, fuel pools and waste disposal sites as well as nuclear warheads and fusion reactors such as ITER. Our inter-disciplinary consortium pulls together experts from mechanical and electronics engineering, nuclear and particle physics, chemistry and computing with our major industrial partner in the civil nuclear energy industry to make this radical new technology a reality.


Net EU contribution
€ 4 016 296,78
75794 Paris

See on map

Ile-de-France Ile-de-France Paris
Activity type
Research Organisations
Total cost
€ 4 057 696,78

Participants (4)

Partners (1)