The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a plan to provide up to $12 million for new research on nuclear data. The aim is to expand and improve the quality of data needed for a wide range of nuclear-related activities from basic research in nuclear science to isotope production and nuclear nonproliferation efforts.

“Increasingly, precise data on the properties of atomic nuclei are central to enabling groundbreaking advances in medicine, commerce, and national security,” said Dr. Chris Fall, Director of DOE’s Office of Science. “This program targets cross-cutting opportunities to enhance the curation of existing nuclear data archives as well as research to lay the groundwork for new applications in areas of national need.”

Three DOE programs have teamed up for the effort as part of continued coordination by the Nuclear Data Interagency Working Group. They include the Office of Nuclear Physics (NP) and the DOE Isotope Program, within DOE’s Office of Science, and the Office of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation, within DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

Topics to be considered include artificial intelligence and machine learning approaches to improve the nuclear data curation; high-impact experiments with potential cross-cutting applications to basic nuclear science, nuclear energy, and nuclear nonproliferation; production of radioactive and stable isotopes that are in short supply; and advancing capabilities for identifying nuclear contraband via detection of gamma rays.

Universities, national laboratories, nonprofits, and private sector companies are eligible to apply. Funding is to be awarded competitively based on peer review and is expected to be in the form of grants of up to $1 million per year, beginning in the current fiscal year. Total planned funding for this funding opportunity announcement (FOA) will be up to $12 million, starting in Fiscal Year 2021, contingent upon congressional appropriations.