Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory

Delivering science and technology to protect our nation and promote world stability


Isotopes produced at Los Alamos National Laboratory are saving lives, advancing cutting-edge research and keeping the U.S. safe.


thorium test foil

A thorium test foil target for proof-of-concept actinium-225 production

In addition to our routine isotope products, the LANL Isotope Program is focused on developing the next suite of isotopes and services to meet the Nation's emerging needs. The LANL Isotope Program's R&D strategy is focused on four main areas (see article list below for recent efforts in these areas):

Medical Applications are a key focus for research including the development of new isotopes for medical imaging and therapy. Recent efforts include investigations into cross section measurements for production of actinium-225 to validate new production methods, accelerator-based production of high specific activity rhenium-186, and production of selenium-72 as the parent isotope in a novel Se-72/As-72 generator.

modeling diagram

Modeling capability includes mechanical, thermal hydraulic analysis of targets as well as predictions of isotope yields based proton and secondary neutron interactions.

Fundamental Nuclear Physics Studies are centered on isotopes for unique cross section measurements to support astrophysics and fundamental nuclear physics studies. Radioactive isotopes are manufactured into targets for additional experiments and for additional experimental testing. Additional focus is dedicated to measurement of production cross sections for a variety of previously uncharacterized isotopes in energy region of 40-800 MeV (H+).

National Security Applications are being studied with special focus on production of isotopes to meet a variety of emerging mission needs including particular focus on environmental tracers and calibration isotopes relevant to the forensics community.

Process Development Improvement focuses on the development of cutting edge targetry (modeling, design, and fabrication) for materials able to withstand the high IPF beam currents as well as the development of new chemical processing technology involving automated systems that will enable enhanced isotope purification.

The LANL Isotope Program is committed to the development of projects that advance the nation‘s knowledge base in the core science and engineering fields that make isotopes available for research. Additionally, we are committed to the development of the underpinning science of isotope applications, and to fostering the skills for the next generation of scientists interested in these fields. Interested students, postdocs and academic/industry collaborators are encouraged to contact us regarding our established and emerging research portfolio.

Recent Publications:

V. Mocko, W.A. Taylor, F.M. Nortier, J.W. Engle, T.E. Barnhart, R.J. Nickles, A.D. Pollington, G.J. Kunde, M.W. Rabin, E.R. Birnbaum. “Isolation of Ho-163 from Dysprosium Target Material by HPLC for Neutrino Mass Measurements.” Radiochimica Acta (2015) DOI: 10.1515/ract-2014-2362.

L.A. Marus, J.W. Engle, K.D. John, E.R. Birnbaum, and F.M. Nortier. “Experimental and computational techniques for the analysis of proton beam propagation through a target stack.” Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research, Section B: Beam Interactions with Materials and Atoms 345 (2015): 48-52.

J.J. Wilson, M. Ferrier, V. Radchenko, J. R. Maassen, J.W. Engle, E.R. Batista, R.L. Martin, F.M. Nortier, M.E. Fassbender, K.D. John, and E.R. Birnbaum. “Evaluation of Nitrogen-Rich Macrocyclic Ligands for the Chelation of Therapeutic Bismuth Radioisotopes.” Nuclear Medicine and Biology, 42 (2015) 428-438.

V. Radchenko, J.W. Engle, J.J. Wilson, J.R. Maassen, F.M. Nortier, W.A. Taylor, E.R. Birnbaum, L.A. Hudston, K.D. John, and M.E. Fassbender. “Application of ion exchange and extraction chromatography to the separation of actinium from proton-irradiated thorium metal for analytical purposes.” Journal of Chromatography A 1380 (2015): 55-63. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chroma.2014.12.045

J.W. Engle, J.W. Weidner, B.D. Ballard, M.E. Fassbender, L.A. Hudston, K.R. Jackman, D.E. Dry, L.E. Wolfsberg, L.J. Bitteker, J.L. Ullmann, M.S. Gulley, C. Pillai, E.R. Birnbaum, K.D. John, S.G. Mashnik, and F.M. Nortier. "Ac, La, and Ce Radioimpurities in 225 Ac Produced in 40–200 MeV Proton Irradiations of Thorium." Radiochimica Acta 102, no. 7 (2014): 569-81.

J.W. Engle, M.R. James, S.G. Mashnik, C.T. Kelsey, L.E. Wolfsberg, D.A. Reass, M.A. Connors, H.T. Bach, M.E. Fassbender, K.D. John, E.R. Birnbaum, and F.M. Nortier. "MCNPX Characterization of the Secondary Neutron Flux at the Los Alamos Isotope Production Facility." Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research, Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment 754 (2014): 71-82.

M.D. Gott, B.D. Ballard, L.N. Redman, J.R. Maassen, W.A. Taylor, J.W. Engle, F.M. Nortier, E.R. Birnbaum, K.D. John, M.E. Fassbender, S.S. Jurisson, C.S. Cutler, A.R. Ketring, and D.S. Wilbur. "Radiochemical Study of Re/w Adsorption Behavior on a Strongly Basic Anion Exchange Resin." Radiochimica Acta 102, no. 4 (2014): 325-32.

H.T. Bach, T.N. Claytor, J.F. Hunter, E.R. Olivas, C.T. Kelsey, J.W. Engle, F.M. Nortier, W.H Runde, C. Moddrell, J. Lenz, and K.D. John. "Improving the Survivability of Nb-encapsulated Ga Targets for the Production of 68 Ge." Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research, Section B: Beam Interactions with Materials and Atoms 299 (2013): 32-41.

J. Engle, E. Birnbaum, H. Trellue, K. John, M. Rabin, and F. Nortier. "Evaluation of 163 Ho Production Options for Neutrino Mass Measurements with Microcalorimeter Detectors." Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research, Section B: Beam Interactions with Materials and Atoms 311 (2013): 131-38.

J.W. Engle, S.G. Mashnik, J.W. Weidner, L.E. Wolfsberg, M.E. Fassbender, K. Jackman, A. Couture, L.J. Bitteker, J.L. Ullmann, M.S. Gulley, C. Pillai, K.D. John, E.R. Birnbaum, and F.M. Nortier. "Cross Sections from Proton Irradiation of Thorium at 800 MeV." Physical Review C 88, no. 1 (2013): Physical Review C, 2013 Jul 11, Vol.88(1).

M.E. Fassbender, B. Ballard, E.R. Birnbaum, J.W. Engle, K.D. John, J.R. Maassen, F.M. Nortier, J.W. Lenz, C.S. Cutler, A.R. Ketring, S.S. Jurisson, and D.S. Wilbur. "Proton Irradiation Parameters and Chemical Separation Procedure for the Bulk Production of High-specific-activity 186g Re Using WO 3 Targets." Radiochimica Acta 101, no. 5 (2013): 339-46.