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  • richardmitnick 4:46 pm on October 8, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , CERN ISOLDE, Collinear laser fluorescence spectroscopy, ISOLDE CRIS-collinear resonant ionization spectroscopy, Optical spectroscopy provides an important window into the atomic and subatomic world, , , Viewpoint: Resonant Ionization Spectroscopy Technique Becomes Tabletop Friendly   

    From Physics: “Viewpoint: Resonant Ionization Spectroscopy Technique Becomes Tabletop Friendly” 

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    From Physics

    October 8, 2018
    Iain D. Moore
    Department of Physics
    University of Jyväskylä, Finland

    A modified version of a spectroscopic technique used at large-scale radioactive-ion-beam facilities could be used in tabletop experiments.

    1
    Figure 1: Sketch of the experimental setup demonstrated by Garcia Ruiz. The ions under study (two indium isotopes) are generated through laser ablation from a surface and fed into a collinear resonant ionization spectroscopy (CRIS) setup, which accelerates the ions and then characterizes their spectra through resonant laser ionization. High-energy resolution is achieved by correcting the residual Doppler broadening of the ions based on time-of-flight measurements. APS/Alan Stonebraker

    Optical spectroscopy provides an important window into the atomic and subatomic world. It can be applied to determine nuclear, atomic, and molecular structures, to test fundamental physics theories, and to track radioactive isotopes for environmental, geological, and medical applications. Recently, researchers have developed spectroscopic methods with exquisite precision and sensitivity, which allow them to study rare or short-lived isotopes at the edge of nuclear stability. The technological complexity of these methods, however, has limited their application to large-scale radioactive-ion-beam (RIB) facilities. Now Ronald Garcia Ruiz, at CERN in Switzerland and at the University of Manchester in the UK, and colleagues have demonstrated a modified version of one such method that could potentially be implemented on a tabletop, opening up new experimental perspectives for other fields of science [1]. The new scheme uses a laser ablation process to produce ions that are then probed with a high-precision spectroscopy technique recently developed at CERN’s Isotope Separator On-Line Device (ISOLDE) facility.

    CERN ISOLDE

    The researchers showed the potential of their method by measuring the tiny hyperfine energy-level splitting of two naturally occurring isotopes of indium, but the scheme could be suitable for studying a broad range of atoms, ions, and molecules.

    Optical spectroscopy extracts fundamental properties of atoms, molecules, and ions by probing their energy-level structure with laser light [2]. When the interest is in nuclear physics, a wealth of information can be derived from observables such as the isotope dependence of energy-level shifts and the hyperfine structure—tiny shifts and splittings in the energy levels due to the interactions between the nucleus and the electron cloud. By measuring these observables with high precision, researchers can test nuclear models and look for possible signatures of exotic interactions associated with dark matter particles. In the past decades, researchers have developed several techniques optimized for the study of short-lived radioactive nuclei, which are important for testing nuclear-stability theories and are relevant to many astrophysical processes. Typically, such techniques have achieved either high resolution—the ability to resolve subtle spectral features—or high sensitivity—the ability to measure species with ultralow abundance.

    High-resolution methods are exemplified by collinear laser fluorescence spectroscopy—a technique based on the collinear superposition of a fast beam of ions with a laser beam. When the laser light is tuned to an ionic transition, it excites the ions’ electrons, which then emit fluorescent photons as they lose their excitation. The ion spectra can be determined by measuring the fluorescence yield as a function of laser wavelength. The acceleration of the ion beam is key to achieving high resolution: the ions are accelerated to several tens of keV, but their initial energy spread is unaffected by the acceleration. As a result, the relative velocity spread of the ions is reduced by up to 3 orders of magnitude, with a corresponding reduction of the Doppler-induced broadening of the transitions to be measured. The resulting spectroscopic resolution is generally sufficient to resolve the ions’ hyperfine structure. High-sensitivity methods, on the other hand, rely on resonant ionization: they involve tuning the wavelength of high-intensity laser pulses to resonantly excite and ionize selected isotopes, which can then be separated from the main beam based on their mass and charge. These methods have achieved an impressive detection sensitivity of 0.1 ions per second but have worse spectral resolution than high-resolution methods [3]. As a result, their applicability is limited to heavy elements, which have larger, and thus more easily observable, hyperfine splittings and isotope shifts. A notable success of resonant-ionization methods has been the optical spectroscopy of nobelium (element 102), the heaviest element studied to date [4].

    Recently, researchers at CERN’s ISOLDE facility have developed a new technique called collinear resonant ionization spectroscopy (CRIS) [5], which features both high resolution and high sensitivity. CRIS involves accelerating the ions produced by ISOLDE to compress Doppler broadening, as in collinear fluorescence spectroscopy. But the technique also includes a resonant ionization step in which laser pulses selectively ionize neutral atoms produced by passing the accelerated ions through a gas. CRIS’s performance was boosted by the installation of ion traps called cooler bunchers, which release ions in few-microsecond bunches that can be synchronized to the ionizing laser pulses. CRIS now provides researchers with regular access to the spectroscopic study of exotic nuclei at the limits of stability [6]. While these are fantastic developments, the question arises: Can one simplify the CRIS approach without compromising the benefits of resolution and sensitivity, providing a setup that doesn’t rely on radioactive-beam facilities like ISOLDE?

    Garcia Ruiz and colleagues show that such a simplification is indeed possible. They achieve this feat by replacing the ion-injection scheme, based on complex cooler-buncher devices, with a source that produces ions through laser ablation from a solid surface (Fig. 1). Laser ablation can have a serious drawback for high-precision studies: it produces ions with a large energy spread, leading to large Doppler broadening. While some of this broadening is reduced by the ion acceleration, the authors implement an additional trick to overcome this difficulty: they correct the measured line shapes of the ions based on time-of-flight measurements that characterize the ion velocity. The authors use this information to process the acquired data and further suppress the spectral broadening.

    The result is a setup that can resolve the hyperfine structure of two indium isotopes (indium-113 and indium-115) and clearly separate their spectra. The measurements yielded hyperfine parameters and isotope shifts for several atomic transitions, some of which had previously been measured, while others (such as the magnetic-dipole hyperfine structure constant) were measured for the first time. The agreement with literature values was excellent, providing an important benchmark of the technique. Using ab initio calculations, the authors demonstrate that the observables they measure are sensitive to important parameters used in many-body atomic models, suggesting that these experiments can be useful in refining and testing theoretical approaches.

    The impact of this work, however, doesn’t reside in the specific results on indium but on the experimental perspectives that the technique might open. While demonstrated at an ion beam facility, the new laser-ablation-based scheme could be implemented with ion-acceleration and laser technology that could fit on a tabletop. Such a setup could enable several important research directions. The first is the study of light and highly reactive elements like carbon. Laser ablation would remove the need for complex and expensive trapping schemes for these elements, which require a cooling step employing dangerous H2

    gas. A second field of application could be the tracing of isotopes in environmental samples. Laser ablation could produce bunches containing many more ions than those available from ion-trapping sources, allowing the tracing of low-abundance isotopes like carbon-14. Finally, the method could be applied to perform high-precision spectroscopic studies of molecules like fluoride, which could reach unprecedented sensitivity in the detection of signatures of beyond-standard-model physics [7]. While this list is by no means exhaustive, it gives sufficient reason to hope that tabletop spectroscopy techniques based on the authors’ scheme could soon address important fundamental and applied questions in physics and chemistry.

    This research is published in Physical Review X.

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    Physicists are drowning in a flood of research papers in their own fields and coping with an even larger deluge in other areas of physics. How can an active researcher stay informed about the most important developments in physics? Physics highlights a selection of papers from the Physical Review journals. In consultation with expert scientists, the editors choose these papers for their importance and/or intrinsic interest. To highlight these papers, Physics features three kinds of articles: Viewpoints are commentaries written by active researchers, who are asked to explain the results to physicists in other subfields. Focus stories are written by professional science writers in a journalistic style and are intended to be accessible to students and non-experts. Synopses are brief editor-written summaries. Physics provides a much-needed guide to the best in physics, and we welcome your comments (physics@aps.org).

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  • richardmitnick 2:24 pm on October 1, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: CERN ISOLDE, Exotic mercury isotopes, Experimental nuclear physics, Laser ionisation spectroscopy, , Nuclear spectroscopy, RILIS experiment   

    From CERN: “Rugby or football? ISOLDE reveals shape-shifting character of Mercury isotopes” 

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    From CERN

    1 Oct 2018
    Corinne Pralavorio

    1
    Lasers at ISOLDE. RILIS experiment (Image: Noemi Caraban/CERN)

    An unprecedented combination of experimental nuclear physics and theoretical and computational modelling techniques has been brought together to reveal the full extent of the odd-even shape staggering of exotic mercury isotopes, and explain how it happens. The result, from an international team at the ISOLDE nuclear physics facility at CERN, published today in Nature Physics, demonstrates and explains a phenomenon unique to mercury isotopes where the shape of the atomic nuclei dramatically moves between a football and rugby ball.

    Isotopes are forms of an element that contain the same number of protons in their nuclei but different numbers of neutrons. The properties of different isotopes can be exploited in a variety of ways including archaeological and historical dating (Carbon 14) and medical diagnostics. Stable isotopes have an optimal ratio of protons to neutrons. However, as the number of neutrons decreases or increases, structural changes to the nucleus are required and the isotope typically becomes unstable. This means it will spontaneously transform itself towards a stable isotope of another element through radioactive decay. Isotopes with extreme neutron to proton ratios are typically very short-lived, making them difficult to produce and study in the laboratory. ISOLDE is the only place in the world that can study such a wide range of exotic isotopes.

    One of the earliest experiments in the ISOLDE facility observed dramatic nuclear shape staggering in the chain of mercury isotopes for the first time. That more than 40 year old result showed that although most of the isotopes with neutron numbers between 96 and 136 have spherical nuclei, those with 101, 103 and 105 neutrons have strongly elongated nuclei, the shape of rugby balls. That discovery has remained one of ISOLDE’s flagship results, but it was so dramatic that it was difficult to believe.

    In this new result, the experimental team used laser ionisation spectroscopy, mass spectrometry and nuclear spectroscopy techniques to take a closer look at how, why and when these quantum phase transitions take place. Not only did the team reproduce the results of the historic experiment (observing isotopes up to Mercury 181), by producing and studying four additional exotic isotopes (177- 180), it also discovered the point at which the shape staggering ceases and mercury isotopes return to normal isotope behaviour. Several theories had tried to describe what was happening, but none was able to provide a full explanation.

    “Due to the extreme difficulty in producing such exotic nuclei, as well as the computational challenge of modelling such a complex system, the reasons for this shape staggering phenomenon remained unclear,” explains Bruce Marsh. “It is only now, with new developments of ISOLDE’s Resonance Ionisation Laser Ion Source (RILIS), and by joining forces with other ISOLDE teams, that we have been able to examine the nuclear structure of these isotopes.”

    These experimental observations were in themselves outstanding, but the collaboration wanted to conclude the story by explaining the shape staggering effect theoretically. Using one of the world’s most powerful supercomputers, theorists in Japan performed the most ambitious nuclear shell model calculations to date.

    These calculations identified the microscopic components that drive the shape shifting; specifically, that four protons are excited beyond a level predicted by expectations of how other stable isotopes in the nuclear landscape behave. These four protons combine with eight neutrons and this drives the shift to the elongated nuclear shape. In fact, both nuclear shapes are possible for each mercury isotope, depending on whether it is in the ground or excited state, but most have a football shaped nucleus in their ground state. The surprise is that Nature chooses the elongated rugby ball shape as the ground state for three of the isotopes.

    “Ingenuity and innovation are characteristics of the ISOLDE community and the generation and measurement of the suite of mercury isotopes is a particularly beautiful example,” said Eckhard Elsen, CERN’s Director for Research and Computing. “I am even more impressed that the theoretical explanation of the puzzling behaviour using supercomputer modelling was provided at the same time.

    See the full article here.


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  • richardmitnick 1:44 pm on December 12, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , CERN ISOLDE, CERN Proton Synchrotron Booster, , CERN-MEDICIS, ,   

    From CERN: “New CERN facility can help medical research into cancer” 

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    CERN

    12 Dec 2017
    Harriet Kim Jarlett

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    As in the ISOLDE facility, the targets at MEDICIS have to be handled by robots because they are radioactive (Image: Maximilien Brice/CERN)

    Today, the new CERN-MEDICIS facility has produced radioisotopes for medical research for the first time. MEDICIS (Medical Isotopes Collected from ISOLDE) aims to provide a wide range of radioisotopes, some of which can be produced only at CERN thanks to the unique ISOLDE facility.

    CERN ISOLDE

    These radioisotopes are destined primarily for hospitals and research centres in Switzerland and across Europe. Great strides have been made recently in the use of radioisotopes for diagnosis and treatment, and MEDICIS will enable researchers to devise and test unconventional radioisotopes with a view to developing new approaches to fight cancer.

    “Radioisotopes are used in precision medicine to diagnose cancers, as well as other diseases such as heart irregularities, and to deliver very small radiation doses exactly where they are needed to avoid destroying the surrounding healthy tissue,” said Thierry Stora, MEDICIS project coordinator. “With the start of MEDICIS, we can now produce unconventional isotopes and help to expand the range of applications.”

    A chemical element can exist in several variants or isotopes, depending on how many neutrons its nucleus has. Some isotopes are naturally radioactive and are known as radioisotopes. They can be found almost everywhere, for example in rocks or even in drinking water. Other radioisotopes are not naturally available, but can be produced using particle accelerators. MEDICIS uses a proton beam from ISOLDE – the Isotope Mass Separator Online facility at CERN – to produce radioisotopes for medical research. The first batch produced was Terbium 155Tb, which is considered a promising radioisotope for diagnosing prostate cancer, as early results have recently shown.

    Innovative ideas and technologies from physics have contributed to great advances in the field of medicine over the last 100 years, since the advent of radiation-based medical diagnosis and treatment and following the discovery of X-rays and radioactivity. Radioisotopes are thus already widely used by the medical community for imaging, diagnosis and radiation therapy. However, many isotopes currently used do not combine the most appropriate physical and chemical properties and, in some cases, a different type of radiation could be better suited. MEDICIS can help to look for radioisotopes with the right properties to enhance precision for both imaging and treatment.

    “CERN-MEDICIS demonstrates again how CERN technologies can benefit society beyond their use for our fundamental research. With its unique facilities and expertise, CERN is committed to maximising the impact of CERN technologies in our everyday lives,” said CERN’s Director for Accelerators and Technology, Frédérick Bordry.

    At ISOLDE, the high-intensity proton beam from CERN’s Proton Synchrotron Booster (PSB) is directed onto specially developed thick targets, yielding a large variety of atomic fragments.

    CERN Super Proton Synchrotron

    CERN The Proton Synchrotron Booster

    Different devices are used to ionise, extract and separate nuclei according to their mass, forming a low-energy beam that is delivered to various experimental stations. MEDICIS works by placing a second target behind ISOLDE’s. Once the isotopes have been produced at the MEDICIS target, an automated conveyor belt carries them to the MEDICIS facility, where the radioisotopes of interest are extracted through mass separation and implanted in a metallic foil. They are then delivered to research facilities including the Paul Scherrer Institut (PSI), the University Hospital of Vaud (CHUV) and the Geneva University Hospitals (HUG).

    Once at the facility, researchers dissolve the isotope and attach it to a molecule, such as a protein or sugar, chosen to target the tumour precisely. This makes the isotope injectable, and the molecule can then adhere to the tumour or organ that needs imaging or treating.

    ISOLDE has been running for 50 years, and 1300 isotopes from 73 chemicals have been produced at CERN for research in many areas, including fundamental nuclear research, astrophysics and life sciences. Although ISOLDE already produces isotopes for medical research, the new MEDICIS facility will allow it to provide radioisotopes meeting the requirements of the medical research community as a matter of course.

    CERN-MEDICIS is an effort led by CERN with contributions from its dedicated Knowledge Transfer Fund, private foundations and partner institutes. It also benefits from a European Commission Marie Skłodowska-Curie training grant, which has been helping to shape a pan-European medical and scientific collaboration since 2014.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 11:56 am on November 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , CERN ISOLDE, , ,   

    From CERN: Women in STEM – “Meet ISOLDE: Fresh faces bring fresh ideas” Monika Piersa 

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    CERN

    16 Oct 2017
    Harriet Kim Jarlett

    1
    The RILIS experiment at ISOLDE. The laser in the experiment has great selectivity, it’s able to select and ionise just one specific element. (Image: Noemi Caraban/CERN)

    Monika Piersa leans across the coffee table in CERN’s cafeteria like she’s sharing a secret:

    “Anytime someone’s surprised nuclear physics takes place at CERN, I tell them why it makes sense – it helps with astrophysics, nuclear power, etc. It’s just as important as the Higgs!”


    Low-energy physics is at the heart of the ISOLDE facility, and is where the collaboration has built its reputation as the best facility in the world for studying radioactive isotopes. In part three of our series about the ISOLDE facility we learn more about how low-energy physics at ISOLDE has evolved over the past half century. (Video: Christoph Madsen/CERN)

    As a summer student in 2016, Monika worked at CERN’s longest running experimental facility, ISOLDE (Isotope mass Separator On-Line). This week, the facility celebrates fifty years of physics, low-energy nuclear physics to be precise.

    CERN is best known for physics at high energies. Indeed, the same accelerators that feed ISOLDE – originally the Synchrocyclotron (the SC) and now the Proton Synchrotron Booster (PSB) – also provide protons for CERN’s flagship Large Hadron Collider (LHC). But despite being less widely known, up to 60 per cent of all the protons that enter the accelerator chain go to ISOLDE.

    The low-energy facility uses so many of the protons because, by bombarding ISOLDE’s target with as many protons as possible, the facility can produce more exotic nuclear isotopes. These isotopes are then separated and delivered via a dozen low-energy beamlines to many experimental setups.

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    Looking down into the ISOLDE experimental hall it’s hard to differentiate between experiments but this isn’t a problem for many of the scientists who enjoy the collaborative nature of the facility. “You can’t be working on your own and say ‘oh look I discovered electricity’ you need to go to conferences, you need to share your work. If you appear out of nowhere people won’t trust your work. Whereas if you know someone who works carefully and hard and they produce a result you trust it because you’ve seen how they work,” explains Razvan Lica. (Image: Maximilien Brice/CERN)

    Everything changes

    ISOLDE is unique not just because it is able to bombard the target with high-energy protons at 1.4 GeV, but also because the experimental hall is in a constant state of flux. Over 50 different physics experiments are performed here each year.

    Some of these experiments are “travelling” systems, which come to ISOLDE shortly before their scheduled beam time, then leave again once their data collection finishes, while several other experiments have chosen ISOLDE as their home base and stay there permanently.

    “ISOLDE is special for its range of experiments. There are some in solid-state physics looking at superconductors that will lead to faster or more energy-efficient computers, or biophysics and medical physics experiments looking into new cancer treatments, or experiments in nuclear astrophysics that will teach us what’s going on inside a star. Nuclear physics is applied everywhere,” says Thomas Day Goodacre, who worked on the laser set up for the RILIS ion source at ISOLDE.

    “Fundamentally ISOLDE is a user facility and anyone can submit an idea for an experiment. Any countries who are members of the ISOLDE collaboration, whether or not they are members of CERN, can submit proposals to the ISOLDE Programme Advisory Board (called INTC). The ISOLDE INTC is made up of people from other facilities around the world and they’re the ones who decide if a new experiment should happen. It’s set up to avoid bias,” he continues.

    Building communities

    The travelling nature of the multiple experiments at the facility, as well as a high turnover of research groups contributes to a constant state of flux in the ISOLDE experimental hall.

    “It keeps things fresh, because of people coming and going. It’s flexible, you can’t settle into one way of running, we have around 500 users with constant turnover, which leads to new demands and the infrastructure being upgraded. The multiuser component is important to ISOLDE, for creativity and ideas,” says Karl Johnston, ISOLDE’s physics coordinator.

    “There is a huge community demand on ISOLDE, the demand for beam time is really high; we don’t physically have the time to study more isotopes. So it’s a good thing more facilities are being built around the world,” says Razvan Lica, a PhD student at ISOLDE, adding that the draw for some researchers to work at ISOLDE is helped by the opportunity to live somewhere filled with beautiful nature, Switzerland.

    Knowing there’s always more to find out, and with such diverse applications, ISOLDE researchers are pushing to learn even more with the next step for ISOLDE, an upgrade called High Intensity and Energy Isolde, or HIE-ISOLDE.

    “Physics is a never-ending story,” explains Monika. “When you learn something, it leaves you with more questions. You’re constantly reaching cliffhangers, asking what next?”

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 4:40 pm on October 27, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    From CERN: “Meet ISOLDE: Where did it all begin?” 

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    16 Oct 2017
    Harriet Kim Jarlett

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    The ISOLDE control room in 1987, before the facility had to move to the new accelerator and site (Image: CERN)

    It turns out no one knows what the DE at the end of CERN’s ISOLDE facility stands for. “Damned expensive?” chuckles Björn Jonson, who has just charmed me with his experiences of serving on the Nobel committee, as I sit in awe opposite him in the CERN canteen.


    Today, ISOLDE celebrates 50 years of physics. On this day, half a century ago, the first beams were run through the ISOLDE experiment, and CERN’s longest running experimental facility began its life. To document this achievement, we’ve made a short documentary series. Watch the first part, on the experiment’s history here.(Video: Christoph Madsen/CERN)

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    Björn Jonson started working at ISOLDE in 1967 as a fellow. Three years later he got a staff position and moved his wife and three daughters to Switzerland from Sweden in his brand new Volvo. This picture was taken five years later, in 1975, just before he became leader of the ISOLDE facility. Jonson is sitting at the console setting up surface barrier detectors for the study of a beta-decay particle emission. Winfried Grüter stands on the right. (Image: CERN)

    The first four letters of CERN’s longest-running experiment site, ISOLDE, which celebrates 50 years of physics today, stand for Isotope mass Separator On-Line. As one of the first students to work on the project, I assumed that Jonson could reveal the truth about the last two letters of the acronym but, when pushed, he teases: “or it might stand for Danish Engineering, which is, of course, the best.”

    Jonson joined ISOLDE in 1967, when the facility had yet to become a facility and was still just a single experiment. But ISOLDE’s extraordinary history began 17 years earlier, when two physicists in Copenhagen, Otto Kofoed-Hansen and Karl-Ove Nielson, had an idea.

    The pair wanted to learn more about the atoms that make up every piece of matter in our Universe, by studying the properties of the nucleus at their centre. They wanted to study a type of radioactive decay that some of these nuclei undergo, called Beta decay, but their own equipment was unable to separate out the interesting nuclei from the others fast enough.

    In 1960, a proposal was made to use CERN’s Synchrocyclotron (the SC) accelerator to produce a high-intensity proton beam that could be directed into specially developed targets to yield lots of different atomic fragments.

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    CERN’s Synchrocyclotron (the SC)

    Different devices could then be used to ionise, extract and separate these different nuclei according to their mass, forming a low-energy beam that could then be delivered to various experimental stations. Thus, the idea of “ISOLDE”, the Isotope Separator On-Line DEvice was born.

    Curious legacy

    Each year, ISOLDE scientists use the facility to push the boundaries of the nuclear chart. By discovering and expanding what we know about ever more exotic nuclei, they are answering fundamental questions about our world, while also helping society by applying this knowledge to real life.

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    Helge Ravn (right) was put in charge by the then Director-General, Carlo Rubbia, of moving the ISOLDE facility from the SC to the new PSB.(Image: CERN)

    Although CERN’s name is the European Organization for Nuclear Research, it’s now better known for collliding high-energy beams of protons to produce and study sub-atomic particles, like the Higgs boson. But despite the trend across the rest of the Laboratory towards particle physics, at ISOLDE the focus has remained on nuclear physics, where a low-energy proton beam (of 1.4 GeV) isused to produce and study exotic radioactive nuclei.

    “Curie was an inspiration, she drew so many women into a career of nuclear physics and chemistry that now ISOLDE has one of the best ratios of female scientists”
    – Helge Ravn, Technical Group Leader from 1971 to 2000

    “What we do at ISOLDE is directly in line with what Madame Curie did,” says Helge Ravn. As a student in CERN’s nuclear chemistry group before the ISOLDE experiment was built, his fascination with the subject shines through. “Curie was an inspiration, she drew so many women into a career of nuclear physics and chemistry that now ISOLDE has one of the best ratios of female scientists. It’s pioneering diversity at CERN and in science,” explains Ravn.

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    In 1991, the Synchrocyclotron was shut down, and ISOLDE had to move to a new location and be connected to the new Proton Synchrotron Booster in order to continue. The new facility was built (you can see the work here) in record time, to prevent disruption to the physics community as much as possible. (Image: CERN)

    The research undertaken, originally by Marie Curie and now continued by the scientists at ISOLDE, is not just helping to redress the gender balance but also contributing to treating cancer with radiation, teaching us about the stars, and even helping to make computers faster.

    Narrow escape

    Despite ISOLDE’s reputation and achievements, it almost came to a sudden death, when the decision was finally made to shut down the ageing, analogue SC, which, having been abandoned by other experiments long before, was only supporting the ISOLDE facility.

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    “Less than two years later, we had beam and could run again. It was an amazing feat that could only be achieved thanks to the infrastructure and competences at CERN. There’s nowhere else like ISOLDE,” smiles Jonson, echoing the sentiments of virtually every scientist I’ve met who works there.

    ISOLDE was relocated and now beams are provided by the Proton Synchrotron Booster and ISOLDE’s physics was able to continue. The humble 1960s experiment grew and grew, and fifty years later the facility now provies beam for roughly 50 experiments per year, supported by more than 500 scientists.

    This is the first part of a series celebrating 50 years of ISOLDE physics. You can continue reading the series here.

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 2:06 pm on April 4, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , CERN ISOLDE, Retired MRI scanner gets new life studying the stars   

    From CERN: “Retired MRI scanner gets new life studying the stars” 

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    CERN

    4 Apr 2017
    Harriet Kim Jarlett

    1
    The ex-MRI scanner magnet has travelled all the way from Australia to be used in an experiment at CERN’s ISOLDE facility (Image: Karl Johnston/CERN)

    A team of researchers has successfully taken a magnet from a decommissioned MRI scanner used by a Brisbane, Australia, hospital for scanning patients, and recycled it for use in an experiment at CERN’s ISOLDE facility.

    CERN ISOLDE

    The ISOLDE Solenoidal Spectrometer (ISS) project will design and construct instruments to explore the nuclear reactions that occur when stars explode in supernovae.

    The decision was made to re-commission the 15-year-old magnet when it was discovered that building a new one could cost almost 1,250,000 CHF. Instead, the entire process of shipping and re-commissioning the retired MRI magnet was around 160 000 CHF (€149,500).

    “Finding a suitable MRI magnet that can go up to a strength of 4 Tesla is not easy, but we found out about this Australian magnet from our collaborators at Argonne National Laboratory and it was exactly what we needed,” explains Professor Robert Page, of the University of Liverpool, who leads the international collaboration using the magnet.

    ISOLDE is CERN’s radioactive ion beam facility, where they study the different properties of hundreds of atomic isotopes.

    Once the superconducting magnet arrived at CERN, the cryogenics team got to work cooling it with liquid helium, to see if it was still capable of producing the strong fields required by the ISS project.

    The project, will take beams of radioactive ions, produced by bombarding heavy nuclei with protons from the Proton Synchrotron Booster (PSB) at CERN, and fire them at a heavy hydrogen (deuterium) target inside the magnet itself. As the particles are fired at the target, neutrons are transferred to some particles to create ions with unusual numbers of protons and neutrons – these are the exotic ions studied at ISOLDE.

    But this process leaves protons without their neutron partner. The strong magnetic field from the MRI magnet causes these protons to spiral backwards and land, just nanoseconds later, on a silicon detector.

    From the position of the proton on the detector and its energy, the energy levels of the exotic ions can be determined. In this way the team hopes to understand how the forces in atomic nuclei with differing numbers of protons and neutrons give rise to their very different properties, and how elements are created by supernovae.

    The ISS project includes researchers from the University of Liverpool, STFC Daresbury Laboratory, the University of Manchester and the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 12:01 pm on August 1, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    From CERN: “ISOLDE back on target after shutdown” 

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    CERN

    1 Aug 2014
    Anaïs Schaeffer

    Today the ISOLDE installation restarted its physics programme with beams from the Proton Synchrotron Booster. After a shutdown of almost a year and a half, there was a real buzz in the air as the first beam of protons hit the target of the first ISOLDE experiment.

    Many improvements have been made to the ISOLDE installation during the first long shutdown (LS1) of CERN’s accelerator complex. One of the main projects was the installation of new robots for handling the targets (see photo below). “Our targets are bombarded by protons from the Proton Synchrotron Booster’s beams and become very radioactive,” says Maria Jose Garcia Borge, spokesperson for the ISOLDE collaboration. “They therefore need to be handled carefully, which is where the robots came in. The robots we had until now were already over 20 years old and were starting to suffer from the effects of radiation. So LS1 was a perfect opportunity to replace them with more modern robots with electronic sensor feedback.”

    image
    One of the new target-handling robots installed by ISOLDE during LS1 (Image: ISOLDE/CERN)

    On the civil engineering side, three ISOLDE buildings have been demolished and replaced with a single building to house the ISOLDE team. It includes a new control room, a data storage room, three laser laboratories, a biology and materials laboratory, and a room for visitors, from which they can admire the ISOLDE hall in comfort. Another building has been extended to house the MEDICIS project, and two more – completed at the end of 2012 – are gradually being equipped with new electrical systems as well as the cooling and ventilation systems needed for the future HIE-ISOLDE.

    In the ISOLDE hall itself, new permanent experimental stations have also been installed. “One of the permanent stations – called IDS or ISOLDE Decay Station (see photo below) – is dedicated to nuclear spectroscopy,” says Borge. “It will allow us to study beta decay and to measure the lifetime of excited states. The other permanent station – VITO – will be used for combined material measurements and biological analyses.”

    decay
    The ISOLDE Decay Station (IDS), one of ISOLDE’s two new permanent experimental stations (Image: ISOLDE/CERN)

    As for the experiment that started this week, it is picking up where the promising analyses carried out in 2012 left off: “Just before LS1, we carried out a medical physics experiment on terbium, directed by Institut Laue-Langevin and the Paul Scherrer Institute ,” says Borge. “It involved in vivo studies of the use of terbium isotopes for both detecting and treating cancerous tumours. Generally, two different chemical elements are used for diagnosis and therapy. Using isotopes of a single chemical element could be very useful in improving the reliability of the process.”

    For the remainder of 2014, the ISOLDE programme is already very busy: almost 40 low-energy experiments are already planned between now and December. At the same time, the necessary infrastructure for the HIE-ISOLDE superconducting accelerator will continue to be installed. Its first cryomodule is due to be installed in spring 2015, ready for high-energy physics to begin in the autumn of the same year.

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 7:09 pm on April 3, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    From ISOLDE at CERN: “ISOLDE sheds light on dying stars” 

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    CERN ISOLDE New
    ISOLDE

    3 Apr 2014
    Dan Noyes

    What happens inside a dying star? A recent experiment at CERN’s REX accelerator offers clues that could help astrophysicists to recalculate the ages of some of the largest explosions in the universe.

    CERN REX post accelerator
    REX post-accelerator

    Core-collapse supernovae are spectacular stellar explosions that can briefly outshine an entire galaxy. They occur when massive stars – stars that are more than eight times as massive as our sun – collapse upon themselves. Huge amounts of matter and energy are ejected into space during these events. The cores of such stars then rapidly collapse and go on to form a neutron star or a black hole.

    TII
    Date 6 January 2014, 16:15:00
    Source http://www.eso.org/public/images/eso1401a/
    Author ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)/A. Angelich. Visible light image: the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. X-Ray image: The NASA Chandra X-Ray Observatory
    The expanding remnant of SN 1987A, a Type II-P supernova in the Large Magellanic Cloud. NASA image.

    The sequence of events in the first few seconds of a massive star collapsing is well understood. Elements in and around the core are broken down by high-energy photons into free protons, neutrons and alpha particles. Bursts of neutrinos follow. But modelling what happens next remains a challenge for astrophysicists.

    Optical telescopes offer little detail on the explosion mechanism. Gamma ray observatories, by contrast, offer tantalising clues, notably in the gamma rays produced by titanium-44 , an isotope of titanium created naturally in supernovae, which can be detected as it is ejected from the dying stars. The amount of the isotope ejected from the supernovae can tell astrophysicists about how it exploded.

    compton
    The Compton Gamma Ray Observatory (CGRO) was a space observatory detecting light from 20 KeV to 30 GeV in Earth orbit from 1991 to 2000. It featured four main telescopes in one spacecraft covering x-rays and gamma-rays, including various specialized sub-instruments and detectors. Following 14 years of effort, the observatory was launched from Space Shuttle Atlantis during STS-37 on 5 April 1991, and operated until its deorbit on 4 June 2000. CGRO was part of NASA’s Great Observatories series, along with the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, and the Spitzer Space Telescope. It was the second of the NASA “Great Observatories” to be launched to space, following the Hubble Space Telescope. CGRO was an international collaboration and additional contributions came from the European Space Agency and various Universities, as well as the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory.

    Two of the best of the ground based Optical observatories
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    Keck

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    By understanding the behavior of titanium-44 at energies similar to those at the core a collapsing star, researchers at CERN hope to offer some insight into the mechanisms of core-collapse supernovae.

    In a paper published in March, they reported on an experiment that used titanium-44 harvested from waste accelerator parts at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) in Switzerland.

    At the ISOLDE facility at CERN, the REX team accelerated a beam of titanium-44 into a chamber of helium gas and observed the resulting collisions between the isotope and the helium atoms. The measurements – which mimic reactions occurring in the silicon-rich region just above the exploding core of a supernova – indicated that more of the isotope is ejected from core collapse supernovae than has previously been thought.

    Astrophysicists can use the new data to recalculate the ages of supernovae.

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 1:59 pm on February 25, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    From CERN: “Test Storage Ring could find new life at ISOLDE” 

    CERN New Masthead

    25 Feb 2014
    Barbara Warmbein

    A used particle accelerator from Germany could start a new life at CERN’s ISOLDE facility.

    pa
    The Test Storage Ring at the Max-Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg, Germany (Image: Max-Planck Institute)

    The Test Storage Ring (TSR) has been in operation at the Max-Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg since 1988. Storage rings are a type of particle accelerator in which beams can be kept circulating for hours. They are often used in particle-physics laboratories to prepare ion sources for experiments.

    If committee decisions are in favour and enough funding is found, the whole 55-metre TSR could be packed up and moved to Geneva to complement the ISOLDE upgrade. The addition of this ring to ISOLDE would make the research facility unparalleled in the world in terms of ion-beam luminosity and quality.

    CERN ISOLDE New
    ISOLDE

    ISOLDE produces beams of radioactive ions that are used for a large array of small experiments in materials science, life sciences, nuclear and atomic physics and astrophysics. After a planned upgrade that is scheduled to finish around 2016, it will become HIE-ISOLDE, where HIE stands for High Intensity and Energy. The beams of radioactive ions will be a factor of three higher in energy and three times more intense, allowing a whole new range of experiments.

    If the Heidelberg TSR is implemented at ISOLDE, it would allow beams to be stored, cooled and reused, thus providing an intensity that would be about a million times higher in combination with greater luminosity and much better beam definition. “It’s a unique opportunity for a unique facility,” says Klaus Blaum of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics, who is the spokesman for the TSR @ ISOLDE collaboration. “TSR would add a whole new class of experimental possibility.” The likely customers of TSR @ ISOLDE are nuclear and atomic physicists, materials and life scientists and astrophysicists.

    At its current home in Germany, the TSR circulates beams of heavy stable ions for experiments in atomic and molecular physics and for accelerator studies. It will soon be replaced by the Cryogenic Storage Ring (CSR) – an accelerator designed for atomic physics, that operates at -271°C.

    “TSR is perfect for nuclear physics, and it still has many years to go,” says Blaum. “So we proposed to add it to CERN’s ISOLDE beams.” The international ISOLDE collaboration were on board immediately, says Baum, and soon afterwards the team consisting of some 150 institutes in 50 countries published a feasibility study in form of a Technical Design Report in 2012. CERN’s Research Board has already given its green light and the TSR has a temporary building number at CERN. The CERN Council will take the final decision on whether to move the TSR from Heidelberg to CERN.

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  • richardmitnick 11:12 am on September 4, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    From CERN: “CERN to produce radioisotopes for health” 

    CERN New Masthead

    4 Sep 2013
    Marina Giampietro

    A groundbreaking ceremony at CERN today marked the beginning of the construction of CERN MEDICIS, a research facility that will make radioisotopes for medical applications. The facility will use a proton beam at ISOLDE to produce the isotopes, which are first destined for hospitals and research centres in Switzerland, and will progressively extend to a larger network of laboratories in Europe and beyond.

    CERN ISOLDE New
    ISOLDE

    Radioactive isotopes are unstable nuclei. They present the same number of protons and a different number of neutrons when compared to the equivalent stable chemical element. In medicine they can be used to reveal the locations of specific molecules in living tissue.

    To produce radioisotopes CERN MEDICIS will use the primary proton beam at ISOLDE, the radioactive beam facility that for over 40 years has provided beams for around 300 experiments at CERN.

    At ISOLDE, physicists direct a high-energy-proton beam from the Proton-Synchrotron Booster at a target. The beam loses only 10% of its intensity and energy on hitting the target so the particles that pass through can still be used. For CERN-MEDICIS, a second target will be placed behind the first, and used to produce useful radioisotopes.

    An automated conveyor will then carry this second target to the CERN MEDICIS infrastructure, where the radioisotopes will be extracted. CERN’s Knowledge Transfer group covered the cost of the conveyor using money from the KT Fund, and is providing a dedicated technology-transfer officer specializing in life sciences. The radioactive shipping service in CERN’s Radio Protection unit together with the logistic services will handle transporting the radioisotopes to the medical facilities where they are needed.

    depict
    A proton beam, entering from the left, hits a target at the ISOLDE facility, producing a shower of scattered particles (Image: ISOLDE)

    “The first part of activities will be fully dedicated to the production and shipping of radioisotopes to the clinical and research centres in the region,” says Thierry Stora, the CERN engineer who leads the CERN MEDICIS project. So far the Geneva University Hospital (HUG), the Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV) and the Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research (ISREC) of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) will use CERN’s isotopes. But there is room for expansion.

    “More research and treatment facilities in the member states have already expressed their interest in collaborating with CERN,” says Stora. “Researchers from the biomedical field are keen to share the diverse technical expertise we have at CERN, which is required to produce radioisotopes.”

    See the full article here, with links to other material.

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