Contact / Biography

I work as a nuclear engineer in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Applied nuclear physics is my core passion, and in addition to comprising a large part of my professional career, projects and experiments entertain me at home. My avocational pursuits include building apparatus for producing and detecting nuclear reactions, collecting radioactive items, fooling around with x-rays, and dabbling in chemistry on occasion.  I am currently in charge of a project to develop small-scale neutron generators at a small local R&D companyIn my previous job, I designed accelerator-based neutron source technology for BNCT, advised on accelerator radiation-protection issues, and operated prototype linear accelerators.  I am an administrator and decade-plus participant on the Open Source Fusor Research Consortium discussion board catering to amateur nuclear fusion projects.

My reason for starting this blog is primarily to share technical projects and nuclear-themed travels and collectibles with fellow enthusiasts.


Email: carl.willis@gmail.com
Phone: (505) 412-3277

Other Interests / Hobbies

Other Sites


I grew up in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, raised by parents who both have scientific avocations (physics, in the case of my father; geology, in the case of my mother). I have a younger sister, Hazel, and brother, Reed. Since 1992, my family has resided in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. After visiting New Mexico on an internship in 2003, I’ve become enamored with the Southwest—-the pleasant climate, the distinctive, piquant cuisine, the miles upon empty miles of deserts, canyons, and mountains. (And, oh yes, there’s a lot of uranium out here!)


Essentially all of my life leading up to the present has been spent in educational institutions, some better than others.

Quality of educational experience is rated above on a scale of exceptional (5stars) to hell-on-earth (1stars), with Grey Culbreth Middle School unfortunately unable to meet the most basic criteria for the latter designation.


  1. Pretty nifty site. No idea you were from out here in the East.

  2. Nice clean site Carl, I can’t wait to see it developing, with all your future experiments and scientific work. I have bookmarked the site, and I will create a link to it from my site too.

  3. A well organised site Carl – that you communicate knowledge is great – that you do it so well is better.

    Good luck

  4. Great stuff, Carl. I like the Fusor presentation and Word file. Excellant summary of a fusor build and activation analysis.

  5. Hi Mark, Steven, John, David– Thanks for stopping by. I’ll try to keep fresh stuff coming up here even though I’m usually pretty slow to get the ’round tuits. -Carl

  6. Love the website and the uranium chemistry section. Great work on the fusor too!

  7. Very nice site Carl. This is an excellent reference site!

  8. Hi Carl

    I just found your web site and think its awesome, you’v got exellent info and its been fun checking it out.


  9. We are in mining and are having problems in assaying our minerals as we don’t know! We think we have some uraninite and other uranium based metals/rocks. Do you run detailed assays? as it seems you are a pro. or are we best with SGS any office around the world but I doubt they will be detailed. Also we woulod be looking for sales and distribution, do you do this?

  10. Hi Carl

    I am UK dermatology trainee and I am writing to ask if you would allow me permission to use the Thorium Nitrate Image for a dermatology poster on the “History of Thorium X” for a UK dermatology conference. I will be grateful if this is allowed and I will acknowldge you for the permission in the poster. Thorium X used to be used in dermatology in UK in 1930s to 50s prior to everyone knowing its carcinogenic effects

    I would be grateful if you would allow permission to use the image for the poster

    Yours sincerely

    Dr Janakan Natkunarajah
    Dermatology UK Trainee

  11. Fantastic site, Carl! You are an amazing person! I just linked your description of uranium processing to our discussion forum.

  12. Very informative and academic. Thanks for posting your work.

  13. Just discovered website. Awesome Carl. Just what I’ve been looking for. Easy Chemistry for ore processing.

    If anyone can finish the United Nuclear “Uranium Solvent Extraction Experiment” I’d sure appreciate it. I’ve got 3 gallons of pregnant leach ready for processing.

  14. Hi Carl,

    Inspired by your website. Since you work with linear accelerators you might know the answer to this question (and if so, might you graciously respond? 🙂

    It’s common for a particle accelerator that is accelerating negatively charged particles to employ a positively charged foil that strips electrons thus turning the negative ions into positive ions. Can the opposite be done? Can I place a negatively charged foil in the beam path and hope to add electrons to positively charged ions and make them negative?

    I’ve been scouring the literature and am coming up zero on this. If you have any insight or know of any alternate ways of negatively charging moving positive nucleae without diminishing their speed I’d appreciate knowing about it!



  15. Awesome website, the article on uranium ore processing is particularly interesting to me. I’ve always had an interest in chemistry and radioactivity, so this site is just my sort of thing! One question, though- I’m moving to Albuquerque next month to start my freshman year at UNM and I’m wondering if there are any local hot spots for uranium prospecting, or if prospectors should just stick to driving up to Moab to get in on the action. Thanks for your help!


  16. Glad I happened upon this site! I had Googled “Albuquerque Mk-17” and it popped up. I did SNM safeguards measurements at Argonne-West for about 20 years. Speaking of nuclear tourism, I spend a couple of years as a monitor for the HEU Transparency program and got to work in 3 closed cities: Seversk, near Tomsk, Zelenogorsk, near Krasnoyarsk, and Novouralsk, near Ekaterinburg. I only did that for a total of 6 months in 2004 and 2005, but will remember the experiences always. As one who was born about the time the Russians were setting off their first fission weapon, getting to see that side of the fence was amazing and fascinating.

    During my career at Argonne, I journeyed to Los Alamos many times to take short courses on Nondestructive Assay methods for my job. I also got to spend some time at Mound laboratory in Ohio (since inactivated) and also Oak Ridge. The Southwest was always my favorite, though.

  17. Hi Carl,

    Great to see the new additions to the website. Curious if you have considered doing a uranium tetrachloride synthesis. Found a large container of carbon tetrachloride at an antique store, where I find most of my radioactive materials locally, inside of an old fire extinguisher. I understand UC4 was the material used for calutron enrichment and thought it might make an I treating addition to my uranium salts collection. Are you still looking into trying a mass spectrometer for sub-microgram isotope enrichment as a throwback to Alfred Nier’s first experiment? The results would be very interesting as far as efficiencies, collection and isolation to substrate for spectroscopy data collection, and other results found. I’ve always been a fan of recreating the original experiments of Crookes, Lenard, Raleigh, Goldstein, Thompson, Rutherford, Meitner, Chadwick, Becquerel, Curie, etc. Look forward to any future postings.

  18. Nice to see you are doing well.

  19. In the chapter “Uranium Chemistry” are some mistakes:
    Na(CO3)2, should be Na2CO3


  20. I would like to subscibe to this website

  21. hello I just sent you an email with pictures.

  22. Read your thesis about the Fusor, really interesting. Especially liked the solutions you came up with like building your own welding rig and the VHS moderators, good stuff!

  23. Dear
    I would like to know the resistivity figures for HPGE detectors. and the typical electrical characterization of HPGE detectors.

    • Hello,

      I may be able to help you with your germanium detector inquiry if you can be more specific.

      Do you want to know the bulk resistivity of germanium at room temperature? At ~77 Kelvin? What do you mean by “typical electrical characterization”?

      Best regards, Carl Willis

  24. Carl,

    I came across you site quite by accident and thought you may find this story about CP-1 graphite blocks of interest. I was born (1943), raised and lived in Chicago and the western suburbs. In the early 1990’s the IT department where I was employed held a picnic in a far south Cook County forest preserve. Many IT employees lived in that area. One fellow employee mentioned that the remains of CP-1, the graphite blocks, had been dumped a short hike away. Being a cold and windy October days I did not take him up on his offer to guide me there. There was no mention of them being buried under concrete. Location? If my memory serves me… google earth lat 41.7099 lon -878968. The picnic was held in one of the first 2 parking area west of Wolf road. If true I doubt any park district employees would be able or willing to direct you to the spot.

    I do not know the year CP-1 was dismantled and doubt cement was hauled to the site unless there was a primitive ‘road’, traces of which may be long gone.

    • Hi Tom, thanks for your little story. The disposal site you mention had some contamination problems, to the extent that visitors to the reclaimed site were able to find chunks of spent fuel and other radioactive detritus surfacing in the area. (Yes, I wish I’d been there.) Unfortunately, the site has been “re-reclaimed” extensively since and there’s no chance of finding buried treasure anymore.

  25. Disposal sites are marked.


    Google earth the lat/lon given and they are but a short distance from where I was.

  26. Hello Carl: I have been looking for you after 10 years of my first acquaintance while you were in Ohio. LINAC’s bench top instrument is good for NCT. Someone from LINAC wanted me to contact you and I did. I recently saw your name with qynergy and I contacted them and my emails rebounded from their website. BoSS is your tool or what on quality control?.
    Best Ram

  27. Hello Carl. I have in my possession a lucite paperweight containing a piece of graphite from cp-1. I’ve been researching the item, and was wondering what it might be worth to collectors. The paperweight does not have the Argonne Lab stamp, however the original owner did work for the University. Any help you could give me would be appreciated. Thanks!

  28. Carl,
    I am starting my research on hpge characterization at university of south dakota. Recent we developed our hpge fabrication lab. so we are expecting in coming month we will get hpge detector. then how can we test the detector whether it’s good or bad?

    If you can then please let me know how can characterize that detector.

    We have old one detector from ortec company that we dismantle. But before that it was not good and workable. so how can i start my investigation this old detector?

    AHM Nazir Hossain

  29. Greetings Carl,

    This a nice nuclear-themed blog.

    I especially enjoyed the nuclear tourism posts and I’m sure that those visits will enrich your professional career as a nuclear engineer.

    Will you ever travel to any of the Manhattan Project test sites and research facilities (Such as Oak Ridge, Los Alamos, Ames, New Mexico, or that famous site under the football field at University of Chicago)?


    Gulfani Putra

    • Hello Gulfani, thanks for your appreciative comments. I’ve worked on internship and practicum jobs at both ORNL and Los Alamos; I also grew up in Oak Ridge, and I currently reside in New Mexico. Some Los Alamos and other New Mexico “attractions” are described already on my blog. I enjoy opportunities to travel and see new things, and there are plenty of places I haven’t been. There are also many places I have been that can’t really be presented in public photos or essays because of their sensitive nature. Unfortunately, the security mentality in the United States is a major barrier to the kind of tourism that I have done with more success in the former Soviet Union.

  30. Carl, I am confident that with astuteness of a person like you who has the passion to go beyond in territories of science, this new year 2013 will give you opportunities to pursue your dreams. I pray that the dreams will be real to bring benefit for the society. I am still dreaming on your NCT approach for cancer cure and I pray that this new year will give new impetus and courage for addressing this issue with clarity and determination.
    Best Ram

  31. Hello,

    Nice to meet you. I have been writing and developing films about the Polywell for over 5 years. Each of my posts take several months of work to compose. The concept is paper-level quality on the web, in plain English. You can view the blog here: http://thepolywellblog.blogspot.com/. The quality speaks for itself.

    Because Fusors and Polywells are so closely related, I would like to link to your site. Please let me know if this is ok. Best of luck with qynergy.

  32. […] may be no better evidence of this than a YouTube video produced by Carl Willis, a nuclear engineer with a delightfully disconcerting hobby: poking around radioactive sites with a […]

  33. […] may be no better evidence of this than a YouTube video produced by Carl Willis, a nuclear engineer with a delightfully disconcerting hobby: poking around radioactive sites with a […]

  34. […] may be no better evidence of this than a YouTube video produced by Carl Willis, a nuclear engineer with a delightfully disconcerting hobby: poking around radioactive sites with a […]

  35. […] may be no better evidence of this than a YouTube video produced by Carl Willis, a nuclear engineer with a delightfully disconcerting hobby: poking around radioactive sites with a […]

  36. […] may be no better evidence of this than a YouTube video produced by Carl Willis, a nuclear engineer with a delightfully disconcerting hobby: poking around radioactive sites with a […]

  37. […] may be no better evidence of this than a YouTube video produced by Carl Willis, a nuclear engineer with a delightfully disconcerting hobby: poking around radioactive sites with a […]

  38. […] a YouTube video produced by Carl Willis, a nuclear engineer shows us around radioactive sites with a Geiger counter and documenting his […]

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  40. I was hoping for more details about Grey Culbreth Middle School!

  41. I have around 400 pounds of lead if you’re interested.

  42. Thanks for your posts and site Carl. I still has a few antique bottles of Radithor (traces of radium still clearly detectable on corks) if you know any private collectors or museums who would be interested in obtaining them (and storing them safely!) Coincidentally, one of my sons (Paul Macklis) is currently a 3rd year student at Ohio State College of Medicine. He is not sure what field he will take up but almost certainly not nuclear medicine or radiation oncology like his father! I guess I will just have to wait for the radiation materials and nuc power renaissance that Bill Gates and others have predicted!
    Roger Macklis MD

  43. Wonderful age analysis of the Russian smoke detector radiation source.

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