Graphite Exponential Pile

The Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering and the Nuclear Reactor Lab celebrated the 75th anniversary of CP-1’s first human-made nuclear fission chain reaction. Pieces of reactor-grade graphite, identical to that used in MIT’s graphite exponential pile, were cut to make souvenirs for the event. The anniversary event was not merely a novelty. The researchers have revived a device, called a graphite exponential pile and originally built in 1957, that over the coming years will provide hands-on access to subcritical nuclear experiments for MIT’s students, and serve as a unique and valuable research tool that can be used to study new reactor designs for future nuclear power plants.


Writer: David L. Chandler, MIT News Office
Image: Gretchen Ertl