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Development of a thorium based target for the production and release of Ac225 at the ISOL facility of MYRRHA

Apply now Before applying, please consult the guidelines for application for PhD

ISOL@MYRRHA will be able to produce a large array of different radioactive isotopes for applications in the field of nuclear physics, condensed-matter physics, biology, nuclear medicine and others. The used Isotope Separation On-Line (ISOL) technique relies on a series of successive steps starting with the irradiation of a target material by a proton beam where the impact of the protons induces nuclear reactions through which the radioisotopes are produced. The produced radioisotopes are evaporated from the target at temperatures in the range of ~2000 °C and then, selectively ionized, extracted and accelerated towards a magnetic mass separator for further purification before being delivered to the end-users as a so-called Radioactive Ion Beam (RIB).

Current worldwide production of 225Ac is insufficient for its application in targeted radionuclide therapy used in cancer treatment. As such, the use of the ISOL method, here at SCK CEN, with a thorium base material to produce 225Ac is a venue with potential to bridge the foreseen needs of this isotope and at least, at a short term, allow sufficient quantities for pre-clinical studies.

This PhD focuses on one of the most limiting steps in the entire ISOL chain and especially in the case of 225Ac, namely the target. The main limitation of target materials, especially when releasing isotope elements with high boiling points such as 225Ac, is the poor release out of the matrix (by diffusion and effusion a.k.a diffusion through vacuum). This limitation can be overcome or mitigated by tailoring of the target material chemical composition (metal, oxide, carbide form), its stoichiometry and especially its microstructure (grain size, pore size and volume). After a suitable material has been found, it must be stable at the operation temperatures (usually 2000 °C) and thus, the sintering phenomena of this material must be well known and controlled.

In this project, a target material to release 225Ac will be developed, its sintering behaviour at high temperature will be studied and release studies will be conducted. Since this PhD topic is part of a collaboration with CERN in Switzerland, it will include discussions and work in external laboratories.

The minimum diploma level of the candidate needs to be

  • Master of sciences
  • Master of sciences in engineering

The candidate needs to have a background in

  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Materials

Estimated duration

4 years

Expert group

Physics and Target Research

SCK CEN Mentor

Fernandes Pinto Ramos João Pedro
jfpramos [at] sckcen.be
+32 (0)14 33 34 49

SCK CEN Co-mentor

Acevedo Muñoz Beatriz
bacevedo [at] sckcen.be
+32 (0)14 33 32 61

Promotor

Vleugens Jef
jozef.vleugels [at] kuleuven.be