Radioactive or rare-isotope beams
Gade, Alexandra National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan.
Gelbke, C. Konrad National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan.
Last reviewed:January 2020
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- Basic properties of nuclei and isotopes
- Building blocks of rare-isotope beam facilities
- Scientific advances facilitated by rare-isotope beams
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
Ion beams of unstable (radioactive) nuclei, most of which are so short-lived that they do not occur naturally on Earth—hence the term rare isotopes. Rare isotopes are typically produced and isolated in the laboratory by suitable nuclear reactions or decays such as fission. Rare-isotope beams are either produced in-flight from fragmentation or fission of stable beams or they are produced in specialized ion sources from where they are extracted as particle beams that can be manipulated by specialized electromagnetic devices to produce beams of the desired characteristics such as purity, particle velocity, direction, and time structure. Several facilities worldwide are operational, and more powerful ones are under construction to explore the vast scientific discovery potential offered by rare-isotope beams. We will use the term rare-isotope beams, noting that such beams are also often referred to as radioactive beams or exotic beams. See also: Ion sources; Isotope; Nuclear fission; Nuclear reaction
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