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An exploration of the atomic nucleus: fundamental science, real world applications

Date:
November 15, 2010
Source:
Suomen Akatemia (Academy of Finland)
Summary:
The visible matter that makes up all things around us, from the stars, planets, to our earth and every living organism that lives on it, has existed for billions of years. However, nuclear scientists around the world have only recently had the knowledge and tools necessary to begin to understand how this matter has been formed, how it evolved and where it originated. We now know there is a strong interplay between the often violent events in the cosmos and the nuclei which make up the elements we find on earth today.

The visible matter that makes up all things around us, from the stars, planets, to our earth and every living organism that lives on it, has existed for billions of years. However, nuclear scientists around the world have only recently had the knowledge and tools necessary to begin to understand how this matter has been formed, how it evolved and where it originated. We now know there is a strong interplay between the often violent events in the cosmos and the nuclei which make up the elements we find on earth today.

Nuclear scientists are striving to push towards the nucleus towards its limits of stability, to search for new elements and to understand how the elements were formed in the universe. Driven by this mission to understand the world around us, basic research in science has led to numerous applications that impact our daily lives. Nuclear science has contributed directly in areas such as energy production and medicine, and indirectly through the training of young people who will be the scientists and pioneers of the discoveries of tomorrow.

The new cyclotron and the laboratory extension benefit physics research, medical industry and the control of the nuclear test ban treaty.

The new cyclotron of the Department of Physics of the University of Jyväskylä was inaugurated on 15 November 2010 by the Finnish Minister of Education, Henna Virkkunen and the Rector of the University of Jyväskylä, Aino Sallinen.

"The new accelerator and the laboratory extension building for it are the largest single investment in the scientific infrastructure in Finland in recent years. The main use of the cyclotron will be the fundamental research of nuclear physics," says Professor Juha Äystö. The research using the most intense proton beam, the IGISOL mass separator, is moved next to the new cyclotron.

A significant part of the research is related to the nuclear fission of uranium and thorium. In this research, accurate nuclear data are measured to be used as a basis of computer simulations of the next generation nuclear reactors. This way, the research supports development of safer and cleaner nuclear power plants. This research is done in international collaboration, partly supported by the European Union.

Jyväskylä is the world's only producer of calibration radiation sources.

Fission is also utilized in the production of calibration radiation sources. These special radiation sources are needed for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO) detector network calibrations. Calibration of the CTBTO's radiation detectors with these special sources improves their sensitivity and allows identifying the weakest signs of radioactivity due to nuclear explosions.

Resources of the new laboratory can also be used for developing research instrumentation that will be used in other international laboratories. The most important of these laboratories is the international Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research (FAIR), the realisation of which will be supported by Finland by six million euros.

The Accelerator Laboratory of the University of Jyväskylä is assigned as a Finnish Center of Excellence by the Academy of Finland. It is also one of the national level research infrastructures listed by the Finnish Ministry of Education. It also has a national task designated by the Ministry of Education as a centre of expertise in radiation and ion-beam research, education and applications. The accelerator laboratory is recognized by the Nuclear Physics European Collaboration Committee (NuPECC) as one of the leading stable-ion beam facilities in Europe. In addition, it is recognized by the European Space Agency (ESA) as an official radiation test facility for space electronics. The foreign investments to the infrastructure of the accelerator laboratory exceed 10 million euros.

The new accelerator will be also utilized in the production of the radioisotopes used in medical imaging.

The new accelerator of the laboratory, a Russian made MCC30/15 cyclotron, accelerates protons (hydrogen nuclei) to energy equivalent to a voltage of 30 million volt. The accelerator was delivered to Jyväskylä as a compensation for the national debt of the former Soviet Union to Finland. The agreement of the delivery was signed in 2007. The main parts of the cyclotron were delivered to Jyväskylä in August 2009, and the installation of cyclotron was finished by spring 2010.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Suomen Akatemia (Academy of Finland). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Suomen Akatemia (Academy of Finland). "An exploration of the atomic nucleus: fundamental science, real world applications." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 November 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101115161716.htm>.
Suomen Akatemia (Academy of Finland). (2010, November 15). An exploration of the atomic nucleus: fundamental science, real world applications. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101115161716.htm
Suomen Akatemia (Academy of Finland). "An exploration of the atomic nucleus: fundamental science, real world applications." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101115161716.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

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