Berkeley Lab

Kai Vetter

kaiProgram Head, Applied Nuclear Physics
Nuclear Science Division
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Berkeley, CA 94720
Mailstop 50C3396
Phone: 510-486-4962

Institute for Resilient Communities
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory


Department of Nuclear Engineering
UC Berkeley
4171 Etcheverry Hall MC 1730
Berkeley, CA 94720-1730
Phone: 510-642-7071
Fax: 510-643-9685

Dr. Kai Vetter is Professor in the Department of Nuclear Engineering at the University of
California, Berkeley and Faculty Senior Scientist and Head of the Applied Nuclear Physics
program at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He obtained his Ph.D. in Nuclear
Physics at the University of Frankfurt in Germany. Professor Vetter’s main research interests are in the development and demonstration of new concepts and technologies in radiation detection to address some of the outstanding challenges in fundamental sciences, nuclear security and safety, and health. He leads and oversees a wide range of developments in gamma-ray detection and imaging and the fusion of nuclear with complementary data that relevant for example in the mapping of contamination in Fukushima or the verification of ion-cancer therapy. He is director of the Institute for Resilient Communities that was established in 2015 to address the need to better integrate advancements in sciences and technologies with communities through education and outreach locally and globally. Prof. Vetter initiated and still leads the Berkeley Radwatch
and DoseNet programs with the goal to engage high and middle schools in performing
environmental measurements employing fundamental science and engineering concepts and to expand across regions, nations, and cultures. He has authored and co-authored more than 200 publications in peer-reviewed journals and is fellow of the American Physical Society. He received Presidential Citations from the American Nuclear Society twice, for his engagement in Fukushima through measurements and enhancing community resilience.


1995 PhD, Physics, J. W. Goethe-University, Frankfurt (Nuclear Physics)
1990 M.S., Physics, J. W. Goethe-University, Frankfurt (Nuclear Physics)
1987 B.S., Physics, Technical University, Darmstadt (Physics)

Professional Appointments

Since 2011 Head, Applied Nuclear Physics Program, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Since 2008 Staff Physicist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Since 2006 Associate Professor-of-Residence, Department of Nuclear Eengineering, UC Berkeley
2001-2008 Staff Physicist, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
1997-2001 Staff Physicist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
1995-1997 Postdoc, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
1995 Postdoc, GSI Darmstadt, Germany
1990-1995 Research Assistant, GSI, Darmstadt, Germany
1988-1990 Research Assistant, Institute for Nuclear Physics, Univ. Frankfurt, Germany

Awards and Honors

2006 Edward Teller Fellowship Award, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
1997 Outstanding Performance Award, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
1995-1996 Fellowship, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
1990 Graduated Summa Cum Laude (University of Frankfurt)

Professional Activities

2011 Co-Chair, Program Committee, Symposium of Radiation Measurements and Applications, Berkeley, CA

2010 Workshop on Germanium-Based Detectors and Technologies, Berkeley, CA

2009-present Technical Support Advanced Technology Demonstration program for DHS/DNDO, Washington D.C.

2008-2009 Chair, Northern California Section of American Nuclear Society
2008 -present Co-Organizer, Advanced Summer School in Radiation Detection and Measurements, Berkeley, Tokyo, Munich
2007-2008 Chair-elect, Northern California Section of American Nuclear Society
Organizer, Workshop for Detectors and Detector Configuration for the Majorana Experiment, Seattle, WA

2005-2011 Member, Technical Council for Majorana
2004-2011 Member, Gretina Advisory Committee
2004 Chair, session for SPECT imaging, DOE Workshop on Future of Gamma-Ray Imaging in Medical Sciences
2003-2011 Member, Gretina Technical Review Committee for DOE
2003-2008 Member, Majorana Executive Committee
2003-2004 Member, Gretina Steering Committee
2002 Member, National Gamma-Ray Tracking Coordination Committee
2001 Co-organizer, Workshop on Digital Signal Processing for Nuclear Physics Applications
2000 Chair, GRETA Working Group on Signal Processing and Gamma-Ray Tracking

2000-present Reviewer for IEEE Transactions in Nuclear Science
2000-present Reviewer for DOE Small Business Innovation Research Grant
1999-present Reviewer for Nuclear Instrumentation and Methods in Physics Research
1998-2006 Reviewer for Physical Review Letters and Physical Review C

Teaching and Research

Professor Vetter teaches the core NE104 course, “Radiation Detection and Nuclear Instrumentation Laboratory” which combines lectures and laboratory work to teach the basic concepts, implementations, and operations in radiation detection. In addition, he teaches NE107, “Introduction to Imaging”, an introduction to medical imaging physics and systems, including X-ray radiography and Computed Tomography (CT), radionuclide imaging (planar imaging as well as Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) and Positron Emission Tomography (PET)), and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Examples of advanced concepts that are being discussed are the recently developed phase-contrast X-ray imaging and hyper-polarization MRI In Fall 2011 Professor Vetterintroduced the new graduate level course NE204, “Advanced Concepts Concepts in Radiation Detection”. This course also combines lectures and experiments, however, focuses on advanced concepts in radiation detection ranging from basic and advanced digital filters for signal proceissing in semiconductor and scintillator detectors to radiation imaging. Gamma-ray imaging concepts based on pinhole, parallel-hole, and coded aperture collimators as well as Compton imaging are being demonstrated employing 3D postion sensitive segmented germanium detectors. Neutron imaging is explored based on the neutron scatter camera concept employing an array of liquid scintillators.

Professor Vetter’s research interests range from fundamental physics to biomedical imaging and homeland security. He is authored and co-authored over 100 peer-reviewed publications. He is also staff scientist at the Nuclear Science Division of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and heads the recntly established Applied Nuclear Physics program there. This program entails almost all aspects of radiation detection including the detector fabrication, readout, integration and signal processing.

Specific Ongoing Research Projects:

  • Development and demonstration of new and/or improved gamma-ray (and neutron) imaging concepts for applications ranging from Homeland Security and Nuclear Non-Proliferation to Biomedical Imaging.
  • Specifically, detection and imaging schemes are being developed from the micrometer to the meter scale. High-resolution CCDs are being developed with micrometer resolution to measure details of radiation scattering induced charged particles, large-scale (e.g. 1 squaremeter) scitnitllator based gamma-ray imager are being employed to demonstrate new capabilities in the detection and identification of materials in large standoff distances. 
  • Mapping and characterization of radiation backgrounds in our enviroenment
  • Environmental monitoring of radioactivity in our environement; Fukushima measurements; Transport and dispersion of radioactive materials in our environment.
  • Development of the Nuclear Street View, the presentation of nuclear radiation fields in our environment in 3D, combined with 3D objects in our environment.
  • 3D Volumetri imaging; Fusion of 3D radiation and object information based on spectroscopic gamma-ray imaging and visual and laser-mapping imaging.
  • Development and demonstration of real-time ion-cancer beam verification based on prompt gamma-ray imaging.
  • Development and demonstration of new and improved concepts in Ge detector technologies to provide unprecedented capabilities in observing rare decays or rare interactions. One of the objectives is the reduction in electronic noise for kg-scale detectors to levels significantly below 100 eV. 
  • Search for neutrino-less double-beta decay in Ge-76 to obtain better understanding on fundamental properties of neutrinos to answer fundamental questions such as: Is the neutrino its own anti-neutrino or what is the mass of neutrinos? 
  • Detection of Coherent Nuclear Neutrino Scattering, a predicted Standard Model process, that could potentially enable the detection of neutrinos from nuclear power reactors.
  • Basic nuclear physics experiments and associated instrumentation to better understand the basic structure of nuclei.
  • Characterization and enhancement of current semiconductor fabrcation processes.
  • Development of strip-based CCD sensors for ultra-high resolution fast readout.
  • Pulse-shape analysis in segmented semiconductor detectors for improved event reconstruction.

Selected Publications

  • K. Vetter, D. Chivers, B. Plimley, A. Coffer, T, Aucott, Q. Looker,” First demonstration of electron-tracking based Compton imaging in solid-state detectors”, Nucl. Instr. Meth. A 652 (2011) 599
  • B. Plimley, D. Chivers, A. Coffer, T. Aucott, W. Wanga, K. Vetter, ”Reconstruction of electron trajectories in high-resolution Si devices for advanced Compton imaging”, Nucl. Instr. Meth. A 652 (2011)
  • D. H. Chivers, A. Coffer B. Plimley, K. Vetter, “Impact of Measuring Electron Tracks in High-Resolution Scientific Charge-Coupled Devices within Compton Imaging Systems”, Nucl. Instr. Meth. A 654 (2011) 244
  • L. Mihailescu, K. Vetter, D. Chivers, “Standoff 3D Gamma-Ray Imaging”, IEEE Trans. Nucl. Sci. 56, 2 (2009) 479
  • W.S. Choong, G. Hull, W.W. Moses, K. Vetter, S.A. Payne, N. Cherepy, J.D. Valentine,” Performance of a facility for measuring scintillator non-proportionality”, IEEE Trans. Nucl. Sci. 55, 3 (2008) 1073
  • D.B. Campbell, K. Vetter, R. Henning, K.T. Lesko, Y.D. Chan, A.W. Poon, M. Perry, D.Husley, A.R. Smith, “Evaluation of radioactive background rejection in 76Ge neutrino-less double-beta decay experiments using a highly segmented HPGe detector”, Nucl. Instr. Meth. A, 587 (2008) 60
  • K. Vetter, “Recent Developments in the Fabrication and Operation of Germanium Detectors”, Annual Review in Nuclear and Particle Physics, 57 (2007) 326
  • K. Vetter, M. Burks, C. Cork, M. Cunningham, D. Chivers, E. Hull, T. Krings, H. Manini, L. Mihailescu, K. Nelson, D. Protic, J. Valentine and D. Wright, “High-sensitivity Compton imaging with position-sensitive Si and Ge detectors”, Nucl. Instr. Meth. A 579 (2007) 363
  • L. Mihailescu, K. Vetter, M. Burks, E. Hull, W. Craig, “SPEIR: a Compton camera”, Nucl. Instr. Meth. A 570 (2007) 89
  • T. Niedermayr, K. Vetter, L. Mihailescu, G. J. Schmid, D. Beckedahl, J. Blair, J. Kammeraad, “Gamma-ray imaging with a coaxial HPGe detector”, Nucl. Instr. Meth. A 553 (2005) 501
  • M. Descovich, I.Y. Lee, P. Fallon, M. Cromaz, A.O. Macchiavelli, D.C. Radford, K. Vetter, R.M. Clark, “In-beam measurement of the position resolution of a highly segmented coaxial germanium detector”, Nucl. Instr. Meth. A 553 (2005) 535
  • Protic, D.; Hull, E.L.; Krings, T.; Vetter, K., “Large-volume Si(Li) orthogonal-strip detectors for Compton-effect-based instruments”, IEEE Trans. Nucl. Sci. 52 (2005) 3181
  • K. Vetter, M. Burks, L. Mihailescu, “Gamma-ray imaging with position-sensitive HPGe detectors”, Nucl. Inst. Meth. A 525 (2004) 322
  • Realization and applications of collimator-less gamma-ray imaging systems”, K. Vetter, Radioanalytical Methods in Interdisciplinary Research, ACS Symposium Series 868: 52-75 2004
  • I.Y.Lee, M.A.Deleplanque, K.Vetter, “Developments in large gamma-ray detector arrays”, Rep. Prog. Phys. 66, 1095 (2003)
  • K. Vetter, “Gamma-Ray Tracking: New Opportunities for Nuclear Physics”, Feature article in Nuclear Physics News, Vol. 12, No.2, 2002
  • K.Vetter , “Gamma-ray tracking: Utilizing new concepts in the detection of gamma-radiation”, Eur.Phys.J. A 15, 265 (2002)
  • C. L. Hartmann Siantar, K. Vetter, G. L. DeNardo, S. J. DeNardo, “Treatment planning for molecular targeted radionuclide therapy”, Cancer Biotherapy and Radiopharmaceuticals 17(3) (2002)
  • K.Vetter, “GRETA: The proof-of-principle for gamma-ray tracking”, Nucl.Phys. A682, 286c (2001)
  • G.J.Schmid, D.A.Beckedahl, J.E.Kammeraad, K.P.Ziock, J.J.Blair, K.Vetter, A.Kuhn, “Gamma-ray Compton Camera Imaging with a Segmented HPGe Detector”, Nucl. Instr. Meth. A459, 565 (2001)
  • K.Vetter, “GRETA: The proof-of-principle of gamma-ray tracking”, Nucl.Phys. A682, 286c (2001)
  • K.Vetter, A.Kuhn, M.A.Deleplanque, I.Y.Lee, F.S.Stephens, R.M.Clark, M.Cromaz, R.M.Diamond, P.Fallon, G.J.Lane, A.O.Macchiavelli, C.E.Svensson, “Performance of the GRETA Prototype Detector”, Nucl. Instr. Meth. A452, 105 (2000)
  • K.Vetter, A.Kuhn, M.A.Deleplanque, I.Y.Lee, F.S.Stephens, G.J.Schmid, D.A.Beckedahl, J.E.Kammeraad, J.J.Blair, R.M.Clark, M.Cromaz, R.M.Diamond, P.Fallon, G.J.Lane, A.O.Macchiavelli, C.E.Svensson, “Three-dimensional position sensitivity in two-dimensionally segmented HP-Ge detectors”, Nucl. Instr. Meth. A452, 223 (2000)
  • M.A.Deleplanque, I.Y.Lee, K.Vetter, G.J.Schmid, F.S.Stephens, R.M.Clark, R.M.Diamond, P.Fallon, A.O.Macchiavelli, “GRETA: Utilizing New Concepts in gamma–Ray Detection”, Nucl. Inst. Meth. A 430, (1999) 292
  • G.J.Schmid, M.A.Deleplanque, I.Y.Lee, F.S.Stephens, K.Vetter, R.M.Clark, R.M.Diamond, P.Fallon, A.O.Macchiavelli, R.W.MacLeod, “A Gamma-Ray Tracking Algorithm for the GRETA Spectrometer”, Nucl. Inst. Meth. A 430 (1999) 69