Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Triumph for TRIUMF

More update on the issue of a severe shortage of medical isotopes, something that I've mentioned before. It appears that the TRIUMF facility in Canada will get its funding to build an accelerator that will, among other things, generate these needed medical isotopes.

A $63-million accelerator, billed as one of the most powerful in the world, will get the go-ahead Tuesday morning at TRIUMF, the national physics lab based in Vancouver.

B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell is set to announce $30.7 million for the project, which could help alleviate future medical-isotope shortages. The Canada Foundation for Innovation has committed $18 million and the remaining $14 million is to come from core federal funding for TRIUMF.

Pay attention to the fact that this is a clear non-high energy physics use of a particle accelerator.

The news report did say something rather puzzling, though, right in the very first sentence.

Canadian scientists hope to beam the country to the forefront of nuclear and isotope research with intense, high-powered light.

Er... I thought they do this by slamming protons or electrons into a target? Where did the "high-powered light" come from?



Tom said...

Photo-fission. Can't find details on what that actually entails, though.

Kevatron said...

They may have mixed up TRIUMF with the Canadian light source in saskatoon.

T.I. Meyer said...

Photo-fission is the answer! Take a high-power beam of electrons and slam them into a target material to create an intense beam of photons via bremstrahlung. the 50 MeV electron beam produces a spectrum of photons from keV up to 50 MeV; peak is 20-35 MeV. Then the photons strike the target material and shatter the nuclei. One mechanism is exciting the giant dipole resonance in a heavy nucleus so that it breaks into pieces.

So, yes, an electron beam and YES a photon beam.