Nuclear Science and Instrumentation Laboratory (NSIL)

The Nuclear Science and Instrumentation Laboratory (NSIL) provides expertise, training and support in the effective utilization of nuclear instrumentation and analytical techniques in a broad range of applications, with a focus on mobile radiation monitoring, X-ray spectrometry, accelerator technologies, and compact neutron generators.

The laboratory also operates the Nuclear Instrumentation Portal to foster information exchange and coordinates proficiency tests covering diverse analytical techniques. 

Capacity building for Members States

The Laboratory is a leading training hub on topics related to nuclear instrumentation, X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) analysis, mobile radiation monitoring techniques, as well as accelerator technology and related applications. It also provides training in the field of radiotracers and radiation technology applications.

Training activities are regularly organized by the IAEA in Seibersdorf or in cooperation with Member States’ institutions operating state-of-the-art facilities as well as with the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP). Collaborating agreements with the Elettra Synchrotrone in Trieste (Italy) and the Ruđer Bošković Institute (RBI) in Zagreb (Croatia) provide additional opportunities for hands-on training and research activities, including facilitated access to these facilities for international users.

Furthermore, thanks to the Neutron Science Facility, equipped with two neutron generators (D-D and D-T), the NSIL offers capacity-building opportunities for neutron physics and related techniques, such as neutron activation analysis and related methods, radiography/tomography and radiotracer applications.

The Laboratory provides assistance in addressing quality management issues for the effective operation of instrumentation and XRF laboratories. It also coordinates periodic proficiency tests compliant with ISO17043 to support national laboratories in assessing their own analytical performance.

Key areas of application

  • Mobile radiation monitoring

    The Laboratory develops instrumentation and procedures, and regularly organizes technical workshops and demonstration missions on radiation dose rate and activity concentration determinations using mobile radiation monitoring instruments and in-situ characterisation techniques, including the use of backpacks and drones. In-situ measurements provide the means of performing fast screening of the spatial distribution of contaminants needed for environmental evaluation of radioactive and industrial pollutants, as well as for emergency preparedness, remediation and mitigation activities. Through the Laboratory, the IAEA also studies the use of mobile radiation monitoring techniques in the area of nuclear security.
  • Elemental analysis using X-ray Fluorescence

    Elemental analysis by XRF technique can be performed non-destructively (for instance, with valuable or unique items) or with minimal sample preparation. Spatial distribution of chemical elements can be determined with a resolution down to a few micrometres using focused X-ray beams. Synchrotron radiation offers additional benefits and possibilities to deploy a rich variety of other X-ray analytical techniques, including X-ray absorption, scattering and near surface analysis methods, which are advantageous for applications in food, cultural heritage, forensics and materials science, among others.
  • Accelerator technology and applications

    Through technical guidance or assessment missions, the Laboratory supports Member States in the optimum operation and utilization of accelerator technology, including ion sources, vacuum systems and end-stations equipped with specific instrumentation. The Laboratory also conducts and facilitates scientific experiments in this area under agreements with Elettra and RBI.

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