Professor Receives Department of Energy’s Early Career Award

A UT professor whose research on neutron imaging could improve medical imaging and high-mileage electric vehicles has received the US Department of Energy’s Early Career Research Award.

Jason Hayward, UCOR Faculty Fellow in Nuclear Engineering, will receive $750,000 over five years starting in July.

The award is granted to researchers in universities and the department’s national laboratories. It supports the development of individual research programs of outstanding scientists early in their careers and stimulates research careers in the disciplines supported by the department’s Office of Science.

The sixty-one selectees for 2013 were chosen based on peer review of about 770 proposals.

Hayward, who holds a joint faculty position with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, was selected for his research that will improve the resolution and cost of instrumentation for neutron imaging. Neutron imaging is a powerful tool used to investigate materials in applications such as medicine, fuel cells, energy and hydrogen storage, and nuclear technology.

“Neutron imaging is an all-around better tool compared with X-rays to look at structures that have low mass, perhaps even cellular structures like cancer outgrowth in the body,” said Hayward. “The resolution must be high enough to observe what’s happening at the cellular level, though.”

Hayward’s research aims to visualize complex processes by shrinking the position resolution of neutron imaging to a micrometer, compared to the more commonly achieved position resolution of tens to thousands of micrometers in imaging instruments. The change would be akin to improving the available megapixels by at least ten times in a digital camera image. Hayward will also aim to decrease image exposure time. He will design, fabricate, and test his high-resolution neutron imaging detectors to see features in objects such as next-generation batteries and fuel cells. A successful outcome would add capabilities to ORNL’s Spallation Neutron Source.

“Dr. Hayward’s radiation instrumentation research has enabled solutions to important nuclear security and safeguards problems,” said Wayne Davis, dean of the College of Engineering. “This award allows him and his students to shift their focus toward basic research that supports neutron imaging for neutron science facilities.”

Hayward is a top recipient of research awards in the Department of Nuclear Engineering, which is the sixth-ranked graduate program in the nation, according to US News and World Report. Since arriving at UT in 2008, he has been awarded close to $9 million in research funding.

Hayward received his PhD in nuclear engineering and radiological sciences at the University of Michigan in 2007.

For more information about the Early Career Research Program, visit the US Department of Energy website.

UCOR is a partnership between URS, a worldwide leader in environmental work, and CH2M HILL, the United States’ largest environmental company. UCOR is committed to the long-term success of cleanup operations at the DOE Oak Ridge Reservation and also performs work at other DOE Oak Ridge Reservation sites. For more information about UCOR, visit www.ucor.com.

C O N T A C T :

Whitney Heins (865-974-5460, wheins@utk.edu)

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