Mathematical Theory of Radiation Transport: Nuclear Technology Frontiers (MATHRAD):

Project: Research council

Project Details


Nuclear technology is, by definition, based around the principle of subatomic physics and the interaction of radiation particles with materials. Whilst the microscopic behaviour of such systems is well understood, the degree of inhomogeneity involved means that the ability to predict the flux of particles through complex physical environments on the macroscopic (human) scale is a significant challenge. This lies at the heart of how we design, regulate and operate some of the most important technologies for the twenty-first century. This includes building new reactors (fission and fusion), decommissioning old ones, medical radiation therapy, as well as opening the way forward into space technologies through e.g. the development of space-bound mini-reactors for off-world bases and protection for high-tech equipment exposed to high-energy radiation such as satellites and spacesuits. Accurate prediction of how radiation interacts with surrounding matter is based on modelling through the so-called Boltzmann transport equation (BTE). Many of the existing methods used in this field date back decades and rely on principles of simulated (e.g. neutron) particle counting obtained by Monte Carlo and other numerical methods. Input from the mathematical sciences community since the 1980s has been limited. In the meantime, various mathematical theories have since emerged that present the opportunity for entirely new approaches. Together with powerful modern HPC and smarter algorithms, they have the capacity to handle significantly more complex scenarios e.g. time dependence, rare-event sampling and variance reduction as well as multi-physics modelling.

This five-year interdisciplinary programme of research will combine modern mathematical methods from probability theory, advanced Monte Carlo methods and inverse problems to develop novel approaches to the theory and application of radiation transport. We will pursue an interactive exploration of foundational, translational and application-driven research; developing predictive models with quantifiable accuracy and software prototypes, ready for real-world implementation in the energy, healthcare and space nuclear industries. This programme grant will unite complementary research groups from mathematics, engineering and medical physics, leading to sustained critical mass in academic knowledge and expertise. Through a diverse team of researchers, we will lead advances in radiation modelling that are disruptive to the current paradigm, ensuring that the UK is at the forefront of the 21st century nuclear industry.
Effective start/end date1/09/2230/11/27

Collaborative partners

  • University of Bath (lead)
  • University of Cambridge
  • Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust
  • Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Aurora Health Physics Services Ltd
  • French Atomic Energy Commission
  • EDF Energy
  • Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf
  • INRIA Bordeaux
  • International Atomic Energy Agency
  • Jacobs UK Limited
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • National Nuclear Laboratory
  • National Physics Laboratory
  • Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Rolls-Royce PLC
  • Rutherford Cancer Centres
  • Sellafield Ltd
  • Swiss Federal Inst of Technology (EPFL)
  • Tsinghua University
  • University of Auckland
  • University of Warwick
  • Teknologian Tutkimuskeskus VTT Oy
  • Westinghouse Electric Company UK Limited


  • Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

RCUK Research Areas

  • Mathematical sciences
  • Mathematical Analysis
  • Numerical Analysis
  • Statistics and Applied Probability


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