Nuclear Engineering

Posted: June 2, 2012 in Other Engineering
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Nuclear Engineering is the branch of engineering concerned with the application of the breakdown (fission) as well as the fusion of atomic nuclei and/or the application of other sub-atomic physics, based on the principles of nuclear physics. In the sub-field of nuclear fission, it particularly includes the interaction and maintenance of systems and components like nuclear reactors, nuclear power plants, and/or nuclear weapons. The field also includes the study of medical and other applications of (generally ionizing) radiation, nuclear safety, heat/thermodynamics transport, nuclear fuel and/or other related technology (e.g. radioactive waste disposal), and the problems of nuclear proliferation.

Nuclear fission is the disintegration of a susceptible (fissile) atom’s nucleus into two different, smaller elements and other particles including neutrons. Approximately 2.7 neutrons are released per fission, which may cause additional fissions if enough fissionable material is present. Nuclear fission is made by separating one atom or combining two different atoms.

An important field is medical physics, and its subfields nuclear medicine, radiation therapy, health physics, and diagnostic imaging. From x-ray machines to MRI to PET, among many others, medical physics provides most of modern medicine’s diagnostic capability along with providing many treatment options.

Nuclear materials research focuses on two main subject areas, nuclear fuels and irradiation-induced modification of materials. Improvement of three nuclear fuels is crucial for obtaining increased efficiency from nuclear reactors. Irradiation effects studies have many purposes, from studying structural changes to reactor components to studying nano-modification of metals using ion-beams or particle accelerators.

Nuclear engineers and radiological scientists are interested in the development of more advanced ionizing radiation measurement and detection systems, and using these to improve imaging technologies. This includes detector design, fabrication and analysis, measurements of fundamental atomic and nuclear parameters, and radiation imaging systems, among other things.

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