The WATCHMAN Project: Using Anti-Neutrinos for Nuclear Threat Reduction

by Dr Matthew Malek

The WATer CHerenkov Monitor for Anti-Neutrinos (WATCHMAN) is a proposed US / UK project that aims to enlist neutrinos for the purpose of nuclear non-proliferation. WATCHMAN will enhance the well-established technology of water Cherenkov neutrino detectors with the emerging technique of gadolinium loading. The primary goal of WATCHMAN is to establish the presence (or absence) of a nuclear reactor to three sigma confidence within one month of operation. Potential extensions to this mission include quantifying the power of a nuclear detonation, oscillation physics with reactor neutrinos, and R&D for new neutrino detection technology (e.g., water-based liquid scintillator). The WATCHMAN prototype will be constructed later this decade; one of the two possible sites is the Boulby Underground Laboratory in Yorkshire, which is located 25 km from the Hartlepool reactor. If successful, future versions may be deployed in Iran and on the Korean peninsula to reduce the global catastrophic risk posed by nuclear weapons.