10 January 2022

Specialists from the Institute of Physics and Power Engineering named after A.I. Leypunsky (State Scientific Center of the Russian Federation (SSC RF) – IPPE, Obninsk, Kaluga Region, part of the Rosatom State Corporation's scientific division – Science and Innovation, JSC) and the Neutron Physics Laboratory of The Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) in Dubna, Moscow Region, agreed upon this at a meeting on the fundamental nuclear physics research program at the projected MBIR reactors (multifunctional fast research reactor) and NEPTUN (FPR-3, fast pulse reactor) at the end of 2021.

During his welcome speech, Andrey Lebezov, the Director General of the SSC RF – IPPE, emphasized the importance and prospects of conducting joint fundamental research as the basis for creating breakthrough nuclear technology. Valery Shvetsov, the head of delegation from The Joint Institute for Nuclear Research and the Director of the JINR's Neutron Physics Laboratory, also noted the need to combine efforts, given the uniqueness of future neutron sources: NEPTUN developed at JINR and MBIR created by the Russian Rosatom State Corporation.

New Russian reactors – MBIR and NEPTUN – feature record parameters that allow for conducting large-scale research in various field of knowledge. Thus, the MBIR reactor will have the world's highest neutron flux density, whereas the NEPTUN reactor will be the most intense pulsed neutron source worldwide. Hence the variety of problems to be solved: from nuclear astrophysics and nucleosynthesis, the Big Bang, non-conservation of space and time parity in nuclear reactions, and non-conservation of the baryon number to still not found, but theoretically possible new nuclear processes and super rare phenomena in cold nuclear matter.

The meeting participants showed a special interest in the possibility of detecting and studying in detail the phenomenon of neutron-antineutron oscillations that clarify the nature of the Universe origin in its first moments. They also recognized promising searches for a new type of radioactivity – pion decay of heavy nuclei.

The participants also discussed the possibility of creating a compact source of ultracold neutrons (UCN) with record parameters on the MBIR's horizontal channel. This will be possible by combining the efforts of specialists in different fields: from the physics of nuclear reactors to the physics of condensed matter.

The launch of new innovative Russian reactors is scheduled in 2026–2028. However, as noted by experts, preparations for experimental work must be carried out now, including training of young researchers, as the feasibility of the discussed scientific plans directly depends on them.

 Source: SSC RF – IPPE

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