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Nuclear Technologies and National Security

Low-Energy Accelerator Facility

A 50 MeV/25 kW electron linear accelerator producing a wide range of radioisotopes for medical, national security, basic science and industrial applications.

Supporting Peaceful Nuclear Energy Research

From its roots in the World War II-era Manhattan Project, Argonne’s Nuclear Energy program has grown to support peacetime uses of nuclear technology for the production of energy, scientific exploration and medical diagnostics and therapy. Particle accelerators are important tools in these efforts.

Particle accelerators use electric fields to speed up and increase the energy of a beam of particles. These particles are steered and focused with magnetic fields. The Low-Energy Accelerator Facility (LEAF) consists of an electron linear accelerator (LINAC) and a Van de Graaff (VDG) electron accelerator. Originally built in 1969, the LINAC recently underwent a significant upgrade to increase the beam power and energy. Researchers in Argonne’s Nuclear Engineering Division use the LEAF for a wide range of applications. This talented team of radiochemists, chemical and nuclear engineers, health physicists and experienced technicians supports multiple programs on behalf of sponsors such as the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) National Nuclear Security Administration, U.S. DOE Office of Science Isotope Program and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

General Applications

  • Radioisotope separation and purification method development
  • Radioisotope production
  • Targetry
  • Radiation testing and material response to received dose
  • Material activation

Applications in Medical Isotopes

  • Pilot-scale testing for the production of 99Mo
    • Method 1: sub-critical fission of low enriched uranium solution
    • Method 2: photon absorption (γ,n) on enriched 100Mo targets
  • Production and purification of radiotheragnostic isotopes 67Cu and 47Sc
  • Development of chemical recycling methods for enriched target materials
  • Development of production methods and generators for alpha emitting radioisotopes