Susan PepperBrookhaven’s Susan Pepper focuses on nonproliferation of nuclear material

As head of the International Safeguards Project Office (ISPO) at the U.S Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory for more than 10 years, Susan Pepper has worked extensively with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to provide their Department of Safeguards with the tools it needs to track nuclear material under the terms of the United Nations’ Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).  Currently the interim chair of the Nonproliferation and National Security Department at Brookhaven, Pepper holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering from MIT.

She arrived at Brookhaven as an intern in the Structural Analysis Division of the Lab’s Department of Nuclear Energy during the summers of 1982 and 1983, performing reliability analysis on safety-related nuclear structures.

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Six active and retired Sandia National Laboratories employees gathered in 2011 at the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History in Albuquerque, N.M., around two B28 gravity bombs recovered from a 1966 nuclear accident over Palomares, Spain. They are, from left, Stan Spray, Leon Smith, who died in 2012, Dan Summers, Ray Reynolds, Bill Stevens and Bob Bradley. They are among the 42 people — including key policymakers, scientists and engineers — who appear in the Sandia video, Always/Never: The Quest for Safety, Control and Reliability. (Photo by Randy Montoya)Always/Never: Sandia documentary tells story of nuclear weapons safety, security

The documentary, Always/Never: The Quest for Safety, Control & Survivability, by DOE's Sandia National Laboratories, showcases rare historical footage and interviews with a wide range of experts to describe how national security laboratories improved the safety and security of nuclear weapons from the dawn of the nuclear age to the end of the Cold War.

After World War II, U.S. policymakers decided the nation would rely heavily on nuclear weapons as an essential strategic deterrent. At the same time, they wanted assurances that weapons in the stockpile would always work if called upon but would never detonate as the result of accident, equipment failure, human mistake or malicious intent — hence the title of the film.

Nuclear weapons must work in extremely complex and often harsh environments. While they could remain dormant for decades, they must be available immediately at the president’s command.

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See also…

DOE Pulse
  • Number 444  |
  • July 27, 2015
  • New ‘molecular movie’ reveals ultrafast chemistry in motion

    This illustration shows shape changes that occur in quadrillionths-of-a-second intervals in a ring-shaped molecule that was broken open by light. The molecular motion was measured using SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source X-ray laser. The colored chart shows a theoretical model of molecular changes that syncs well with the actual results. The squares in the background represent panels in an LCLS X-ray detector. (SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory) Scientists for the first time tracked ultrafast structural changes, captured in quadrillionths-of-a-second steps, as ring-shaped gas molecules burst open and unraveled. Ring-shaped molecules are abundant in biochemistry and also form the basis for many drug compounds. The study points the way to a wide range of real-time X-ray studies of gas-based chemical reactions that are vital to biological processes.

    Researchers working at DOE’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory compiled the full sequence of steps in this basic ring-opening reaction into computerized animations that provide a “molecular movie” of the structural changes.

    Conducted at SLAC’s Linac Coherent Light Source, a DOE Office of Science User Facility, the pioneering study marks an important milestone in precisely tracking how gas-phase molecules transform during chemical reactions on the scale of femtoseconds. A femtosecond is a millionth of a billionth of a second.

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  • Helium ‘balloons’ offer new path to control complex materials

    Inserting helium atoms (visualized as a red balloon) into a crystalline film (gold) allowed Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers to control the material’s elongation in a single direction. Researchers at DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed a new method to manipulate a wide range of materials and their behavior using only a handful of helium ions.

    The team’s technique, published in Physical Review Letters, advances the understanding and use of complex oxide materials that boast unusual properties such as superconductivity and colossal magnetoresistance but are notoriously difficult to control.

    For the first time, ORNL researchers have discovered a simple way to control the elongation of a crystalline material along a single direction without changing the length along the other directions or damaging the crystalline structure. This is accomplished by adding a few helium ions into a complex oxide material and provides a never before possible level of control over magnetic and electronic properties.

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  • Sandia tamper-detecting seal is tough to fool

    Jason Hamlet was on the Sandia National Laboratories team that developed SecuritySeal, a device that attaches to a container and detects tampering. The technology, which is based on physical unclonable functions, or PUFs, is available for licensing. “We are looking for commercialization partners,” Jason said. “We want this to be licensed and moved to the next level.” (Photo by Randy Montoya) A critical area of security is ensuring that something inside a container stays there. DOE's Sandia National Laboratories has made the job easier with an innovative technology that detects signs of tampering.

    “In our world, one advance by an adversary can make a security technology obsolete overnight,” said Dianna Blair, manager of Sandia’s Global Technology Engagement, Research & Analysis Department. “The key is to stay ahead of the adversaries.”

    Sandia has a long history of research into tamper detection and continues to advance the field, providing technologies to the International Atomic Energy Agency and others.

    One next-generation technology is SecuritySeal, a patented method of tagging and sealing containers or doors.

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  • New process recycles magnets from factory floor

    Critical Materials Institute and Ames Laboratory scientist Ikenna Nlebedim is developing a process to create new magnets from magnetic manufacturing waste. A new recycling method developed by scientists at the Critical Materials Institute, a DOE Energy Innovation Hub led by Ames Laboratory, recovers valuable rare-earth magnetic material from manufacturing waste and creates useful magnets out of it. Efficient waste-recovery methods for rare-earth metals are one way to reduce demand for these limited mined resources.

    The process, which inexpensively processes and directly reuses samarium-cobalt waste powders as raw material, can be used to create polymer-bonded magnets that are comparable in performance to commercial bonded magnets made from new materials. It can also be used to make sintered magnets (formed by pressure compaction and heat).

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