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Nuclear engineering project targets defense and security via solar panels

Nuclear engineering research in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering is expanding its reach. Professor Raymond Cao will lead a $1.05-million project funded by the U.S. Department of Defense to assess the use of solar panels to detect nuclear detonation.

Raymond CaoCaoThe “Solar Panel for Prompt Detection and Identification of Nuclear Detonations” project will investigate the capability of photovoltaic panels in detecting, measuring and defining the characteristic prompt signatures and high-energy radiation particles of a nuclear detonation. The Defense Threats Reduction Agency is funding the study.

“Manufactured infrastructures, such as solar plants or even portable solar panels, might be well served for the purpose of capturing the enormous energy released by a nuclear detonation,” said Cao, who directs Ohio State’s Nuclear Analysis and Radiation Sensor Laboratory and Nuclear Reactor Labortory. “In many aspects, the way a solar cell converts sun light to electricity is very much like how a semiconductor device detects nuclear radiation.”

Research partners are the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Air Force Institute of Technology.

Tags: Research