Mariya Zhuravleva, assistant research professor of materials science and engineering, was recently named principal investigator on a $2 million 5-year grant from the Department of Homeland Security. Her research addresses a grand challenge in border security by developing crystal growth technology aimed at enabling the production of large size gamma-ray scintillators with superior energy resolution. The properties of currently available materials limit the performance of detection systems.
For most gamma and neutron detection applications, these materials must be available in large size at a reasonable cost while maintaining the required energy resolution to unambiguously identify various nuclear signatures. New fundamental understanding of the materials properties of recently discovered scintillators will be coupled with numerical simulations of fluid flow and heat/mass transport to drive the design of new crystal growth furnaces and new growth protocols aimed at demonstrating the potential of large scale production.
The effort will focus on recently discovered scintillators that appear to have inherent advantages for large-scale production. A key strategy of the program is the tight integration of research and education that will provide opportunities for students to develop a deeper knowledge, expertise, and appreciation of this critical field.