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Technologist Don Hanson looks down at the shutter assembly of the Gamma Irradiation Facility at Sandia National Laboratories before it is activated for an experiment. The facility will be used in research made possible under an agreement between Sandia and University of New Mexico.
Photo by Randy Montoya, Sandia National Laboratories

There is an agreement in place to bolster national security and advance science and engineering at the same time.

That can happen after Sandia National Laboratories and the University of New Mexico joined forces by signing an agreement last week.

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“Once we have that umbrella in place, it opens the knowledge cache of both institutions — our scientific researchers collaborating with UNM’s — so that we can better serve Albuquerque, the state and the nation,” said Sandia business development specialist Jason Martinez.

Cyber Security

The umbrella Cooperative Research and Development Agreement, or CRADA, allows the labs and university to explore research collaborations among scientists, faculty and students in several areas, including ongoing projects. In contrast to a standard CRADA, which involves a single project in one technical area, an umbrella CRADA covers multiple projects and technologies.

The CRADA with UNM will immediately launch two projects focusing on radiation testing and developing particle detector designs for the European particle physics laboratory CERN.

“CRADA research like this fosters innovation and furthers the capabilities of both parties,” said Sandia technology partnerships senior manager Mary Monson. “These partnerships allow Sandia to share our expertise for the U.S. public good and support the Labs’ various missions.”

The CRADA will last five years and have the possibility of renewal.

“This CRADA facilitates ongoing relationships between UNM faculty and facilities with Sandia technical staff and facilities and will allow for expansion of these interactions,” said Edl Schamiloglu, UNM’s special assistant to the provost for laboratory relations.

The UNM umbrella CRADA has nine areas of collaboration: quantum information science; computational science and engineering; cybersecurity; data analytics, systems analysis and intelligence science; nuclear engineering and high-energy density science; advance materials and devices; energy and water; bioscience for national security; and emerging science and engineering capabilities for national security.

“This continues our long-standing collaboration with UNM and is a big step forward in the partnership,” Peebles said. “This allows Sandia to collaborate in an in-kind way with UNM faculty and students.”

The CRADA will build on partnerships between Sandia and the university at the Center for Quantum Information and Control, co-located at UNM and the University of Arizona; at the Advanced Materials Laboratory, a research facility jointly operated by Sandia and UNM; and at the New Mexico EPSCoR SMART Grid Center, a project that includes Sandia, UNM and several other research institutions.

In one of the first projects under the umbrella CRADA, Sandia will test and validate electronics and other materials UNM uses to develop advanced particle detector designs for the Atlas Detector on the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.

Electrical components and other materials need to withstand harsh radiation fields during experiments at the Large Hadron Collider, said Maryla Wasiolek, a Sandia nuclear engineer on the project. The collider is undergoing energy and luminosity upgrades that will expose particle detector components to higher levels of incident radiation.

Further Collaboration
The UNM components will be tested at Sandia’s Gamma Irradiation Facility and the Ion Beam Laboratory to predict their responses to the experimental conditions like those possible when the Large Hadron Collider restarts operations. The results will be shared with several programs requiring radiation-hardened detectors, electronics and materials.

Another project will allow Sandia to assist UNM researchers with characterizing fuel plates used to power the university’s low-power teaching reactor, said Sandia engineer John Miller.

The project, supported by the Department of Energy’s Criticality Safety Program, will support the development of benchmarks for the Nuclear Energy Agency’s International Handbook of Evaluated Criticality Safety Benchmark Experiments, which is used to validate nuclear data. Having those benchmarks, Miller said, will be beneficial for both institutions and the nuclear community.

“In the world of nuclear criticality safety, we’re always trying to ensure people handle material in a safe manner,” Miller said. “We have the radiological protection people who can do the characterization, we have nuclear safety experts, and we have the measurement capabilities that UNM needs, while they have a reactor with uncommon fuel.”

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