Scientific Highlights LRC
In December 2020, the Swiss Academy of Sciences (SCNAT) published its white book on radiochemical education in Switzerland. The report was authored under the lead of Prof. Dr. Roger Alberto (University of Zurich), Dr. Mario Burgener (Spiez Laboratory), and Prof. em. Dr. Heinz W. Gäggeler (University of Bern/Paul Scherrer Institute) and comprises contributions from many experts on the topic from various institutions throughout Switzerland. The white book highlights the imminent loss of experts in the field of radiochemistry and provides solutions to counteract this development.
As of December 10, 2020, the ETH Zurich appointed PSI’s Prof. Dr. Patrick Steinegger as assistant professor of radiochemistry (tenure track). Thus, the ETH domain took first counter measures against the imminent loss of radiochemical expertise in Switzerland, emphasized in the “Weissbuch Radiochemie Schweiz” by the Swiss Academy of Sciences (SCNAT). Furthermore, the December issue of CHIMIA (Swiss Chemical Society) invited to present the diverse radiochemical activities throughout the country.
The December issue of CHIMIA of the Swiss Chemical Society (SCS) focused on the radiochemical activities throughout Switzerland. Scientists of the Laboratory of Radiochemistry contributed with a number of articles ranging from topics of fundamental sciences to applied research, thereby reflecting on the diverse projects carried out in our laboratory.
At the neutron source SINQ, PSI researchers are producing special radionuclides that aid in the development of new and more effectively targeted cancer therapies. In this they collaborate closely with the clinics in the surrounding area.
Shortly after the Big Bang, radioactive Beryllium-7 atoms were formed, which today, throughout the universe, they have long since decayed. A sample of beryllium-7 artificially produced at PSI has now helped researchers to better understand the first minutes of the universe.
Nuclear data for nuclear installations: Radiochemistry improves the precision of the cross-section data of long-lived radionuclides
Knowledge about the cross sections data of the target materials used for spallation neutron facilities (SNF) and accelerator driven systems (ADS) is essential for the licensing, safe operation and decommissioning of these facilities. In addition, these data are important to evaluate and improve the existing computer simulation codes. Especially the α-emitter 148Gd has a large contribution to radio-toxicity of spallation target facilities with its 74.6 years of half-life.
One of the long-lasting unsolved problems in Nuclear Astrophysics is the so-called "Cosmological Li Problem", i.e. the large discrepancy between the primordial 7Li abundance predicted by models of Big Bang Nucleosynthesis and the one inferred from astronomical observation. The study of the production/destruction rates of the radioactive precursor 7Be is one of the clues for solving this problem.
Post Irradiation Examination of MEGAPIE – How radiochemical analytics helps looking inside a high-power liquid metal spallation target
PSI radiochemists now finished the radiochemical analysis of the residue nuclei production in the Lead-Bismuth Eutectic (LBE) of the MEGAPIE target. Twenty – mostly safety-relevant – radionuclides could be identified and quantified. Comparisons with theoretical predictions show acceptable agreement in most cases, but also considerable discrepancies for some selected radionuclides. Moreover, the scientists learned that noble elements like Gold, Silver, Mercury or Rhodium are homogeneously distributed in the bulk LBE, while others, sensitive to reduction/oxidation (Lanthanides, Iodine, Chlorine), tend to accumulate at exposed positions like vessel walls and free surfaces. These results will help to improve models and codes for predictions and, thus, will improve the safety of existing and future facilities.
Researchers at the PSI have for the first time used a cyclotron to produce the radionuclide scandium-44 in a quantity and concentration as needed for medical treatment. With that, they have achieved the first precondition for scandium-44 to be used one day for medical tests in hospitals.