Applied Ion Beams

bio-betaNMR: A new tool to understand biology at the molecular level

bio-betaNMR: A new tool to understand biology at the molecular level Although bNMR has been applied to nuclear physics and condensed matter for the past five decades, its application to biology, wet chemistry, and medicine are still fairy uncommon, mainly due to technical difficulties of maintaining liquid solutions under vacuum. Over the past three years, TRIUMF has not only pioneered technology that overcomes that barrier, but also carried out first experiments on liquids and biological samples, moving from proof-of-feasibility to first applications. In April 2017, we recorded the first-ever bNMR signals originating from oxygen and nitrogen coordinating Mg2+ in typical Mg complexes, illustrating that bNMR can discriminate between different structures. In July 2018, we carried out first bNMR measurements on Mg coordination to ATP. This achievement marks a milestone in applications of bNMR into biologically-relevant samples and opens new opportunities in the fields of wet chemistry, biology, and medicine.

Novel accelerator target technology for improved production of medical isotopes

Novel accelerator target technology for improved production of medical isotopes: Historically, research within TRIUMF’s Life Science division has focused on the world’s more common PET isotopes: 11C, 13N and 18F. However, through new target development in recent years, this list has been dramatically expanded to include new isotopes through new target development: 68Ga, 44Sc, 86Y, 89Zr, 192Ir, 52Mn, 61,64Cu, 99mTc and 119Sb. One of these new target systems is the so-called solution target, modelled after the remotely-controlled 18F production process currently used in medical cyclotrons. In lieu of a traditional solid target station, this technique allows for the irradiation of solutions (for example: nitrate solutions of metals of interest) in a cost-efficient, simple, and safe manner.

Redefining the global isotope supply philosophy

Redefining the global isotope supply philosophy: In 2009, the world was recovering from widespread shortages of 99mTc - an isotope used in ~40 million nuclear medicine scans around the world every year - when the Canadian federal government announced the imminent cessation of isotope production activities at the Chalk River reactor. In response, TRIUMF (along with BC Cancer, the Centre for Probe Development and Commercialization, and Lawson Health Research) teamed together to develop a novel, high-powered target hardware solution capable of enabling the production of commercial-scale quantities of 99mTc using local, hospital-based cyclotrons. This technology has been licensed to a new spin-off company, ARTMS Products, Inc., which obtained US$3M in venture funding from Quark Ventures in December 2017. Cyclotron-produced 99mTc is now being implemented in the United Kingdom, with additional jurisdictions soon to follow. This same hardware has since been adapted to allow for the production of 68Ga, 64Cu, 89Zr and other isotopes of interest.

A new dosimeter to improve characterization of TRIUMF proton and neutron beams

A new dosimeter to improve characterization of TRIUMF proton and neutron beams: With collaborators at the University of Waterloo, TRIUMF's PIF & NIF group has invented a new dosimeter that's proven incredibly valuable at characterizing the proton and neutron test beams available at TRIUMF’s irradiation facilities. Neutron radiation effects testing, usually for single event effects (SEE), uses accelerator produced neutrons with a broad energy spectrum to simulate the cosmic ray or terrestrial spectrum at ground level or aircraft altitudes. The energies that are of interest are above 1 MeV, with most testing to date using the fluence of > 10 MeV neutrons for determining acceleration factors between accelerator neutrons and the terrestrial environment. The new PIF-NIF dosimeter is based on an array of SRAMs (Static Random-Access Memories) with thirty, 16 Mbit Cypress SRAMs arranged in a close-packed 5x6 array to cover an area of 36 x 36 mm. This SRAM has several key features. It does not latch-up, and the ECC can be removed and the single event upset (SEU) cross section with ECC removed is large enough at about 10-13 cm2 per bit for good sensitivity. The total error rate at a flux of 106 protons or neutrons/cm2/s is about 2500-3000/minute so good statistics can be achieved very quickly even at much lower fluxes. The new dosimeter will allow for improvements to TRIUMF’s testing facilities and methods benefiting both scientific researchers and industrial engineers in their understanding and quantification of radiation effects.