Accelerators – Overview
iThemba LABS provides accelerator and ancillary facilities that are used for research and training in nuclear and accelerator physics, radiation biophysics, radiochemical and material sciences, radio nuclide production and radiotherapy. Proton beams are accelerated to an energy of 66 MeV in the K = 200 separated sector cyclotron (SSC) with a solid-pole injector cyclotron (K=8) for use in the production of radio nuclides and neutron therapy. Radio nuclides produced at iThemba LABS are used in research and industry, various radio pharmaceuticals are prepared for diagnostic imaging at nuclear medicine centers. The operating schedule for the accelerator facilities at iThemba LABS is shown in Fig. 1.
Beam is delivered to the different users for 24 hours per day and seven days per week. Radio nuclide production and neutron therapy run from 16h00 on Mondays until 5h00 on Fridays. Patients are treated during day time and between treatments the beam is switched to the radio nuclide production vault and the intensity is increased to 100µA. On Mondays and Fridays a 200 MeV beam is used for proton therapy and over the weekend beams of light and heavy ions as well as polarized protons, pre-accelerated in a second solid-pole injector cyclotron, are used for nuclear physics experiments.
The proton beam that is used for the production of radio nuclides and neutron therapy, is pre-accelerated in the first solid-pole injector cyclotron (SPC1) to an energy of 3.14 MeV and then finally in the separated-sector cyclotron (SSC) to an energy of 66 MeV at an RF frequency of 16.37 MHz