Brock physicist Thad Harroun on the hunt for neutron beam source

A team of Canadian scientists, headed up by Brock University Associate Professor of Physics Thad Harroun, is travelling to Sweden next week in hopes of striking up a partnership to access the European Spallation Source (ESS), a neutron beam source facility being built there.

The meetings are meant to prepare for next year’s closure of Canada’s National Research Universal nuclear reactor in Chalk River, Ont.The 60-year-old reactor — the world’s oldest operating research reactor — is slated to shut down in March 2018, after which Canadian and other scientists will no longer be able to use the highly specialized equipment in their experiments.

“We understand the decision, but we’re a casualty of that decision,” says Harroun, who is President of the Canadian Institute for Neutron Scattering and a working group leader within the Canadian Neutron Initiative (CNI).

Harroun says until another Canadian nuclear research facility is built, “We’d like to press the Canadian government to put in a stop-gap emergency measure so that we can continue our research elsewhere.” That could mean the government purchasing ‘beam time’ at a foreign facility, as well providing upgrades to the nuclear reactor at McMaster University, says Harroun.

The CNI has its eye on Sweden’s European Spallation Source, a highly sophisticated facility under construction in the southern Swedish city of Lund that is expected to “both greatly exceed and complement today’s leading neutron sources,” says the ESS website.

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