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First generation targets for the ISOL facility of MYRRHA - A Si/Ti target for Al and Mg isotopes

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

MYRRHA is an Accelerator Driven System (ADS) program at SCK CEN that includes an ISOL (Isotope Separation OnLine) facility. A share of the proton beam from the MYRRHA LINAC will be directed to this ISOL facility. In the adopted phased implementation of MYRRHA, the first phase of the program is currently under design and construction. In this first phase, ISOL@MYRRHA will operate with protons of 100 MeV and up to 500 μA. The facility will serve a research program covering fields such as fundamental research in subatomic physics, research with radioactive probes in condensed and soft matter, and radioisotope production for nuclear medicine.

In comparison with operating facilities (CERN-ISOLDE 1.4 GeV, TRIUMF-ISAC 0.5 GeV), the 100 MeV energy of the proton beam at ISOL@MYRRHA in phase 1 hinders some radionuclide production routes in the targets and opens new opportunities through the reduced production of impurities. This results in the need to develop, prototype and test specific targets for ISOL@MYRRHA. In addition to production aspects, the radionuclide release aspect of ISOL@MYRRHA targets in phase 1 presents an interesting challenge, stemming from the proximity between the target element and the produced nuclides in production routes other than fission. Another aspect specific to ISOL@MYRRHA targets is the high intensity of the proton beam and its effects e.g. on the target’s lifetime.

The aim of this PhD research is to develop one instance of the first generation of targets for ISOL@MYRRHA. In the ISOL method, protons from the MYRRHA LINAC will impinge the target material enclosed in a container that is connected to an ion source. From the nuclear reactions occurring due to the interaction of the proton beam with mater, a variety of radionuclides are produced and thermalized in the target material. The target is thus operated at temperatures of 1600 ~ 2500 °C to promote the release of the radionuclides of interest via diffusion and effusion. Upon release from the target environment, the radionuclides are ionized and extracted by a potential difference prior to undergoing mass separation. As perceived from the short description above, the development of ISOL targets involves different physical and chemical phenomena, the simulation of which poses challenges and makes for an enriching research. Besides, this PhD research also encompasses experimental work and fits within a collaboration with CERN-ISOLDE, promising for inspiring interactions with leading scientists.

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
  • Nuclear materials

Estimated duration

4 years

Expert group

Physics and Target Research

SCK CEN Mentor

Houngbo Donald
dhoungbo [at]
+32 (0)14 33 34 32


Cocolios Thomas Elias
thomas.cocolios [at]