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Analysis of the microscopic structure and dynamics of molten salts for energy applications




NRL: Nuclear Reactor Laboratory

Faculty Supervisor:

Dr. Gordon Kohse

Faculty email:


Apply by:


Dr. Boris Khaykovich: bkh@MIT.EDU

Project Description

Molten salts are fascinating liquids, which are important for many applications, such as nuclear and solar energy, and chemical engineering. The resurgence of Molten-Salt Nuclear Reactors (MSR) creates interesting problems in molten-salt chemistry. As MSRs operate, the composition and physical properties of salts change because of fission and corrosion. Therefore, Dr. Boris Khaykovich and his group are studying the microscopic structure of molten salts using neutron and X-ray scattering measurements and computer simulations. This UROP project is a part of this effort. The students will analyze the data from neutron and X-ray scattering experiments. The data has been recently collected by Dr. Khaykovich and collaborators at Oak Ridge and Brookhaven National Laboratories. A new remote experiment will be scheduled at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in the Fall. The raw data from experiments must be properly normalized, filtered, and plotted for comparison with simulations. We are developing data reduction and data processing workflow for the analysis of neutron scattering data collected at LANL. The processing steps to produce the analyzed data need to be documented, e.g. in a tutorial-type document, and any software, such as data conversion scripts, required to do so will be made open-source software. As such, this project will allow UROP students hands-on learning by working with real data generated during recent measurements and potentially participating in a remote experiment at LANL. Academically, the UROP students will learn basic concepts of the microscopic structure of liquids and important techniques for measuring the structure, namely neutron, and X-ray diffraction. The students will be guided by the instructors at the MIT Nuclear Laboratory who are experienced mentors and subject matter experts.


The project is suitable for students interested in experimental nuclear or materials science and engineering, chemistry, chemical engineering, applied physics or math, or computer science. An interest in learning Python-based software tools and at least some knowledge of Python is required. This project is suitable for being done remotely as our summer UROP experience confirmed. The students will be working largely independently while relying on regular communications using Zoom.