High Flux Neutron Generator

Pursuing research and innovation in neutron interaction studies, medical isotopes, nuclear data, geochronology and accelerator/plasma physics.


Using a compact particle accelerator, we focus a beam of Deuterium ions onto a water-cooled Titanium target, which generates an intense beam of neutrons through a nuclear fusion reaction. We use this neutron beam to study properties of nuclear structure and nuclear reactions, to precisely date geologic samples, to test circuitry for high-radiation space applications, and to provide a testbed for novel medical isotope generation techniques. The High-Flux Neutron Generator (HFNG) group is a collaboration of research scientists, professors, graduate and undergraduate students, and industry experts.

Current Research

  • Characterization of Deuteron-Deuteron Neutron Generators

    Waltz PhD Thesis

    Design, construction, and characterization of the High-Flux Neutron Generator (HFNG). Topics include target heating, electron backstreaming, flux characterization and potential applications of the HFNG.

  • First Volcanic Samples Dated Using HFNG

    Campanian Ignimbrite (57 ka), Alder Creek Sanidine (1.2 Ma) and Vesuvian eruption (1939 a) samples of various grain sizes (from <15 to 125 μm) were successfully dated with the Ar/Ar technique using the HFNG.

  • Measuring the 39K(n,p) Cross-Section

    The quasi-monoenergetic neutron spectrum of the HFNG is appealing for geochronology because contaminant nuclear reactions are minimized, improving the precision of the technique. However the reaction cross-section is poorly known in this region, which impacts experiment planning and optimization.

  • Ion Beam Optics Optimization

    Deuterium ion beam optics were optimized by simulations for various extraction configurations in order to achieve a uniform neutron flux distribution and an acceptable heat load. Also, experiments were performed in order to benchmark the modeling and characterization of the HFNG.

  • Back-streaming Electron Suppression Analysis

    One of the challenges of designing a fast neutron generator is the suppression of Auger electrons created by the implantation of the Deuterium beam into the target. Detailed simulations and testing were performed to select the optimal suppression method.

  • 35Cl(n,p) Cross-Section Measurements

    The (n,p) and (n,a) reaction cross-sections were measured for 5 natural chlorine samples in the 2.4-2.8 MeV neutron energy range. These measurements are essential to the design of chloride-based molten salt reactors because they determine the level of chlorine-37 enrichment required for criticality.

  • 47Ti(n,p)47Sc and 64Zn(n,p)64Cu Cross-Section Measurements

    Cross sections for the 47Ti(n,p)47Sc and 64Zn(n,p)64Cu reactions have been measured for quasi-monoenergetic DD neutrons produced by the HFNG. The study was motivated by interest in the production of 47Sc and 64Cu as emerging medical isotopes, highlighting the utility of compact, DD-based neutron sources for the production of radionuclides for medical applications.

  • natNi(n,p) Cross-Section Measurements

    The natNi(n,p) reaction is a common fast neutron fluence monitor due to its high cross-section and long half-life. The HFNG has been adapted to perform high-resolution cross-section measurements, and the Ni(n,p) reaction was measured as a test of this capability.

The HFNG Group

The HFNG is primarily maintained and operated by students, both graduate and undergraduate, with support and mentorship from the Nuclear Engineering faculty, and technical input from our professional advisors. We are always seeking to expand our network of students, advisors, and outside experimentalists, so please contact us if you'd like to become a part of the HFNG team.


  • Karl van Bibber

    Nuclear Engineering Department Co-Chair, and Associate Dean for Research. Research interests include nuclear physics in high energy density plasmas; Axion experiments and dark-matter searches; plasma-based neutron sources and accelerators; antineutrino reactor monitoring.

  • Lee A. Bernstein

    Professor Bernstein is the Nuclear Data Group Leader at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). He leads the Data Evaluation for Applied Nuclear Science (DEANS) project at UC-Berkeley as a part of the US Nuclear Data Program. Dr. Bernstein is an advisor to the Nuclear Data Services Section of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

  • Jon Batchelder

    Dr. Batchelder is the scientific facility manager for the High Flux Neutron Generator. He is an Assistant Research Engineer in the LBNL/UC-Berkeley Nuclear Data group and a nuclear structure evaluator with more than 20 years of experience measuring the properties of unstable nuclei using radioactive beams and decay spectroscopy.


  • Jon Morrell

    Jon is a Ph.D. student in the UC Berkeley department of Nuclear Engineering. He maintains and operates the HFNG, and his research interests are in nuclear data, Monte-Carlo methods and medical isotope production. He also performs experiments at the 88" cyclotron at LBNL, and when he's not measuring cross-sections you can find him skiing at Lake Tahoe.

  • Max Wallace

    Max is completing his bachelor's in Nuclear Engineering following an eighteen year career in software development writing high-speed decision systems for Fortune 500 companies. He currently supports HFNG operations in the group's nuclear structure investigations, but his near-term goal is pursuing PhD studies in fusion plasma geometries, plasma-material interactions, and snowflake divertor configurations.

  • William Heriot

    I'm a Chemical/Nuclear Engineering undergraduate eager to get into research. My research interests are anything you're willing to explain to me and my career goals are either working at a National Lab or building a Chocolate factory.

  • Charles M. Johnson

    Future Goals: I hope to serve in the U.S. submarine force and eventually design/work with small modular reactors.

Professional Advisors

  • Howard Matis

    Recent research includes building a Luminosity detector for the CERN LHC, studying neutrinos for the IceCube collaboration, and designing and building a high resolution tracking detector for STAR at the RHIC accelerator. I am also a Affiliate Staff Scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

  • Jay James

    Professional engineer (nuclear, electrical, mechanical). Current focus is on HFNG safety and operation, cooling system improvements, and target design. Also an Affiliate Staff Scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

List of Publications

Mauricio Ayllon, Parker A. Adams, Jon C. Batchelder, Joseph D. Bauer, Tim A. Becker, Lee A. Bernstein, Su-Ann Chong, Jay James, Leo E. Kirsch, Ka-Ngo Leung, Eric F. Matthews, Jonathan T. Morrell, Paul R. Renne, Andrew M. Rogers, Daniel Rutte, Andrew S. Voyles, Karl Van Bibber, Cory S. Waltz, Design, construction, and characterization of a compact DD neutron generator designed for 40Ar/39Ar geochronology, Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment, Volume 903, 2018, Pages 193-203, ISSN 0168-9002, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nima.2018.04.020.

Cory Waltz, Mauricio Ayllon, Tim Becker, Lee Bernstein, Ka-Ngo Leung, Leo Kirsch, Paul Renne, Karl Van Bibber, Beam-induced back-streaming electron suppression analysis for an accelerator type neutron generator designed for 40Ar/39Ar geochronology, Applied Radiation and Isotopes, Volume 125, 2017, Pages 124-128, ISSN 0969-8043, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apradiso.2017.04.017.

A.S. Voyles, M.S. Basunia, J.C. Batchelder, J.D. Bauer, T.A. Becker, L.A. Bernstein, E.F. Matthews, P.R. Renne, D. Rutte, M.A. Unzueta, K.A. van Bibber, Measurement of the 64Zn,47Ti(n,p) cross sections using a DD neutron generator for medical isotope studies, Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section B: Beam Interactions with Materials and Atoms, Volume 410, 2017, Pages 230-239, ISSN 0168-583X, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nimb.2017.08.021.

Conference Talks and Proceedings

ANS Winter Meeting 2018 - Batchelder

Get in touch

If you're interested in joining our group, using our machine, or beginning a research collaboration contact us using this Google Form, give us a call or visit us in person (address below).

Our Location

1140 Etcheverry Hall
2521 Hearst Ave
Berkeley, CA 94709
(510) 642-1984