Thursday, January 29, 2009

Another Vital Use Of A Particle Accelerators

Anyone following this blog will have seen me trying to dispel one of the most common misunderstanding about particle accelerators - that they are only for particle colliders. WRONG!

In any case, here's another vital application of a particle accelerator, to generate isotopes for medical use.

Accelerators cannot produce as much of the isotopes as nuclear reactors - one accelerator could supply just 5 per cent of world demand - "but this is outweighed by the advantage of using safer materials," writes Dr. Ruth.

The isotopes - used in a wide variety of procedures from cancer diagnosis to heart monitoring - come from the decay of a chemical called molybdenum-99.

Nuclear reactors create the material by bombarding highly enriched uranium - the same sort of uranium that is used in nuclear weapons - with neutrons. Accelerators can achieve the same results by firing photons at a much safer type of uranium, writes Dr. Ruth.

If you read the whole news article, you'll realize that there is an URGENT need and shortage of such medical radio-isotopes.


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