Institute for Nuclear Materials Science

General Objective

The general objective of the institute for Nuclear Materials Science (NMS) is to develop and assess materials behaviour in nuclear environments. The scope of the institute's activities comprises structural materials, fuels and radioisotopes. The targetted systems for this research are current nuclear installations as well as future applications of nuclear energy, currently under development.

The overall approach towards the different material challenges combines the experimental study of materials, the mechanistic understanding of the observed behaviour and its implementation in numerical simulations that enable the prediction of the behaviour of materials in a nuclear environment.

These activities aim both to safeguard our own expertise and to offer high added value services to the nuclear industry.

Strategic Priorities

Structural materials research

NMS evaluates the performance and life span of materials used in current nuclear power plants. The focus is on the ageing phenomena. The main areas of investigation are the radiation induced embrittlement of reactor pressure vessel steel and stress corrosion cracking of internal and primary circuit components. By research and services in this field, NMS contributes to nuclear safety.

Nuclear fuel research for current nuclear power plants

NMS is occupied with the qualification of evolutionary fuels for present-day reactors. This comprises the experimental characterisation of commercial fuel behaviour in normal and transient conditions, supported by validated fuel modelling codes. This know-how is extended by advanced irradiation and post irradiation tests, supported by numerical modelling efforts. The aim is to improve the efficiency and safety in nuclear power plant operation in partnership with the industry.

Structural materials development and validation for advanced nuclear systems

NMS develops and validates materials for advanced fission reactor concepts (Accelerator Driven Systems (ADS), MYRRHA, Generation IV) and for fusion technology (ITER, DEMO). The experimental qualification is supported by multiscale modelling tools. These enable the extrapolation of the results to the expected conditions in the advanced nuclear systems that are currently being designed.

Nuclear fuel research for advanced nuclear systems

NMS contributes to the development and qualification of new fuels for advanced reactor concepts. In this field, activities are focussed on fuels for material test reactors (MTR) and ADS-LFR and gas fast reactors.

Radioisotopes and silicon doping

NMS is charged with the development of new radioisotopes for medicine and the enhanced neutron transmutation doping of silicon for electronics. The aim is to strengthen the capabilities of the BR2 MTR within the market of industrial as well as radiopharmaceutical irradiation services. The development towards new applications in radiopharmacology aims at setting up production and conditioning methods for short lived isotopes, in close collaboration with producers.


The NMS institute is divided into 2 scientific expert groups and 4 technical expert groups. The former groups are mainly involved in research and scientific development projects, while the latter provide services to internal and external clients and develop new testing and service facilities.

Institute manager: Sannen Leo

Deputy Institute Managers: Scibetta MarcChaouadi Rachid