Stylianos Chatzidakis receives $800K DOE award to further nuclear cybersecurity research

Stylianos Chatzidakis, Assistant Professor at the School of Nuclear Engineering (NE), received a Nuclear Energy University Program (NEUP) award from the U.S. Department of Energy earlier this year.
Photo of Dr. Stylianos Chatzidakis and photo of DOE logo
Stylianos Chatzidakis, Assistant Professor at the School of Nuclear Engineering 

Through the Office of Nuclear Energy, these competitively awarded grants support groundbreaking, innovative nuclear research being conducted at U.S. universities. This involves research and development (R&D), infrastructure enhancement, and the aid of student education.

Chatzidakis and his research team, together with researchers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), aim to develop quantum-based secure communication architectures optimized for advanced nuclear systems and demonstrate their use on Purdue University’s all-digital Reactor, PUR-1, the first reactor in the U.S. with fully digital instrumentation and control (I&C). His Purdue University team members include Lefteri Tsoukalas, Professor of Nuclear Engineering.

The details of their research objectives are cited in their published abstract titled, “Un-hackable Communications with Quantum Key Distribution for Secure Remote Operations,” as well as Chatzidakis’ independent manuscript titled, “Exploring Quantum Key Distribution for Nuclear I&C Cybersecurity.”

This joint effort will enable access to unique technical expertise and resources including prototypic quantum equipment and the experts who built it. Chatzidakis explains, “Through our unique combination of expertise and facilities, our team will, for the first time, apply quantum technology to the critical application space of advanced nuclear systems to seal up the vulnerabilities currently provided to attackers.”

Seungjin Kim, Capt. James F. McCarthy Jr. and Cheryl E. McCarthy Head and Professor at NE, said “This project is of great importance in advanced reactor technology and develops a digital workforce, which is a critical need for the global nuclear engineering community.”

With this award, Chatzidakis also hopes to develop the next generation of nuclear engineers, and support a minimum of three Ph.D. dissertations. He intends for participating doctoral students to be an integral part of his team.

Prior to joining Purdue, Chatzidakis was R&D Staff and a Weinberg Distinguished Fellow at ORNL. Chatzidakis currently serves as the Associate Reactor Director for PUR-1 and Director of the Nuclear Engineering Radiation Laboratory. ­

Learn more about the School of Nuclear Engineering.

Schedule a tour of PUR-1.

Writer: Ashvini Malshe,

Source(s): Stylianos Chatzidakis, / “U.S. Department of Energy Invests $61 Million in Advanced Nuclear Energy R&D Projects Across America”