Fundamental and applied research

Two kinds of research hand in hand

SCK•CEN undertakes both fundamental and applied scientific research. The two are usually run in tandem and are closely linked to one another. Through fundamental research we study the building blocks and basic principles of nuclear processes without direct regard to specific applications. When our staff devote themselves to applied research – which sometimes is more along the lines of development – they design a solution for specific challenges, in some cases at the request of our partners or clients.

Some examples

Effect of radioactivity on humans

Fundamental: To gain insight into how human genes react to the ionising radiation from radioactive substances and to study the sensitivity of unborn lives to radiation.
Applied: To collaborate in the development of medicines and radiotherapy for the treatment of cancers, to study the effect of cosmic rays on astronauts, to contribute to the prevention of infertility after irradiation.

Disposal of radioactive waste

Fundamental: To study the characteristics of clay and research into the long-term durability of concrete.
Applied: To conduct disposal experiments in the HADES underground laboratory, to collaborate in the development of the disposal facility for short-lived low- and medium-level radioactive waste in Dessel.

Protection of the environment

Fundamental:To study of the effects on soil, microbes and plants after contamination with radioactive substances and metals
Applied: designing specific measures for fields and farmland after contamination.

Safe operation of nuclear plants

Fundamental: research into how materials react to ionising radiation, damage modelling (e.g. cracks) and ageing processes.
Applied: To monitor the reactor vessel steel of national and foreign nuclear power plants to ensure their safe operation.

More information

Brochure: SCK•CEN 2016 highlights

Multimedia: Media library

Scientific research and projects: SCK•CEN Science Platform 

Scientific publications: SCK•CEN Institutional Repository