Department of Physics and Astronomy

Within the Division for applied nuclear physics, Department of Physics and Astronomy, research is conducted in the field of fission diagnostics and nuclear safeguards. The safeguards research is focused on i) safeguards verification of spent nuclear fuel using non-destructive assay techniques, ii) use of machine learning methods to support nuclear safeguards and iii) research on instrumentation, methods and approaches to support the development of appropriate nuclear safeguards measures for new nuclear energy systems.

The research group has for a long time been collaborating with various nuclear industries in Sweden, to ensure the relevance and applicability of the safeguards research to real-world issues. The Swedish nuclear waste management company SKB is together with its Finnish counterpart at the forefront of the construction of a final repository for high level nuclear waste.

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The project is devoted to research on safeguards aspect related to the verification of spent nuclear fuel prior to encapsulation and final disposal. In Sweden, the company SKB is responsible for the encapsulation and final disposal, and currently the facilities are being designed. However, no geological repository is yet in operation, and there is no experience of safeguards measurements and safeguards verification prior to encapsulation and disposal. In fact, such measurements mark the last point in time where the spent fuel is accessible for measurements, which puts stringent requirements on the accuracy and thoroughness of the safeguards verification measurements. Due to the throughput of the planned encapsulation facility in Sweden and the required measurement times, it is foreseen the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), responsible for performing the safeguards evaluation, will share measurement equipment and data with SKB. Thus, the measurement station must provide both operational data to SKB and nuclear safeguards relevant data to the IAEA. In addition, the national regulator Strålsäkerhetsmyndigheten (SSM) may also require access to the data and analysis results.   

This research project is a collaboration between Uppsala University and SKB, in which we plan to design a measurement station to measure the radiation emissions from the spent nuclear fuel in order to characterize it. The performance of the developed measurement station will be evaluated for both operator and regulator needs. The goal of this project is to propose a first design of a measurement station that fulfills the requirements of all involved parties. The project includes evaluations of relevant detectors, studies of measurements to be done and research on possible analysis methodologies for assessing the performance of the selected systems. In the analysis methodology part of the project, the use of machine learning algorithms is foreseen, both for analysis of single detector measurement results, and to enable a systematic evaluation of multiple detector signals and measurement techniques simultaneously to more accurately characterize the spent fuel. The project will require significant Monte-Carlo simulations to be performed, both in order to characterize the designed measurement station, and evaluate its response to the inventory of spent nuclear fuel to be disposed of. This will include modelling of the fuel as a radiation source, radiation transport to the detectors, simulating the detector response and the analysis of the response to quantify the measurement performance.

Another part of the project is to investigate issues related to having two parties share one measurement station. In principle the IAEA wants to perform independent measurements using trusted software and hardware, to ensure that measurement results that are reliable and trustworthy. The sharing of one measurement station introduces issues with respect to hardware, software and signal authentication, tamper-resistance, and real-time transmission and analysis of the results during the encapsulation operation. A collaboration has been initiated with Sectra Communications, specializing in these types of security questions, which will provide input to the project. The project is funded by the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority, SSM

In addition to the research duties, the Ph.D. student may participate in teaching, for up to 20% of the time, which will prolong the project accordingly.

To meet the entry requirements for doctoral studies, you must

  • Hold a Master’s (second-cycle) degree in physics, nuclear physics, nuclear technology, or
  • Have completed at least 240 credits in higher education, with at least 60 credits at Master’s level including an independent project worth at least 15 credits, or
  • Have acquired substantially equivalent knowledge in some other way
  • Communicate well in English, both orally and in writing
  • Personal maturity, confident and stable in your role.
  • Good cooperation skills, able to work both independently and in groups.

In addition, you must be eligible to a personal licence for export-restricted codes such as MCNP, and for access to Swedish nuclear installations. This eligibility will be checked before admission to the doctoral studies.

Additional qualifications
The following qualifications are considered meriting:

  • Knowledge and experience of nuclear energy systems such as light water reactors and advanced nuclear energy systems, and of the nuclear fuel cycle
  • Experience with gamma and neutron detectors, measurements and measurement analysis
  • Experience of nuclear engineering Monte-Carlo codes such as Serpent, MCNP and Geant and of modelling source terms as well as radiation detection
  • Experience of numerical analysis work in Python, Matlab or similar
  • Knowledge and experience of nuclear safeguards
  • Experience in hardware and software security and authentication.
  • Experience working with or developing of machine learning algorithms.

Rules governing PhD students are set out in the Higher Education Ordinance chapter 5, §§ 1-7 and in Uppsala University's rules and guidelines.

About the employment
The employment is a temporary position according to the Higher Education Ordinance chapter 5 § 7. Scope of employment 100 %. Starting date 8 January or as agreed. Placement: Uppsala

For further information about the position, please contact: Erik Branger, +4670-167 90 71,

Please submit your application by 23 October 2023, UFV-PA 2023/3440.

Are you considering moving to Sweden to work at Uppsala University? Find out more about what it´s like to work and live in Sweden.  

Type of employment Temporary position
Contract type Full time
First day of employment 2024-01-08 or as agreed
Salary Fixed salary
Number of positions 1
Full-time equivalent 100 %
City Uppsala
County Uppsala län
Country Sweden
Reference number UFV-PA 2023/3440
Union representative
  • ST/TCO,
  • Seko Universitetsklubben,
  • Saco-rådet,
Published 20.Sep.2023
Last application date 23.Oct.2023 11:59 PM CEST

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