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 and radionuclide productions. Proton beams are accelerated to a maximum energy of 200 MeV (megaelectron volt) in the K=200 separated sector cyclotron (SSC), pre-accelerated with a K=8 solid-pole injector cyclotron (SPC1), for use in the production of radionuclides. Radionuclides produced at iThemba LABS are used in research and industry, various radiopharmaceuticals are prepared for diagnostic imaging at nuclear medicine centers.
Beam is delivered to the different users for 24 hours per day and seven days per week. The beam schedule is semi-rigid, with the Radionuclide Productions Department taking the beam on Monday and Tuesday. The intensity of the proton beam used for the latter application can be increased up to 300 μA, but is limited to typically 220 μA and 80 μA, depending on the target to be irradiated. The rest of the beamtime is reserved for subatomic physics experiments scheduled via the Program Advisory Committee (PAC). Beams of light and heavy ions as well as polarized protons, pre-accelerated in a second solid-pole injector cyclotron (SPC2), are used for nuclear physics experiments.
The proton beam that is used for the production of radionuclides 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