Co-developers: National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), University of Colorado – Boulder
Nuclear technology, such as carbon-free nuclear power generation and nuclear medicine, is an essential part of modern life and is widespread around the world. Correspondingly, nuclear safeguards are essential to deter the spread of nuclear weapons. As an example of the magnitude of this challenge, the International Atomic Energy Agency is responsible for safeguarding 212,814 significant quantities of nuclear material in 1,314 facilities across the world as of 2018. SOFIA (Spectrometer Optimized for Facility Integrated Applications) is the first ultra-high-resolution gamma spectrometer based on low-temperature microcalorimeter technology designed for and demonstrated in nuclear facilities. SOFIA provides a magnitude of 10x better resolution than standard high-purity germanium detectors in a compact instrument that can be operated in nearly any facility. This technology provides a path to completely nondestructive analysis with precision and accuracy approaching what is possible in a destructive analysis laboratory. It will find application in nuclear fuel cycle facilities, medical isotope production facilities, environmental monitoring laboratories, and other locations that require analysis of nuclear and radioactive materials.