Flexible Medical Radioisotope Production

Brookhaven’s large proton linear accelerator is able to produce medically useful radioisotopes not available elsewhere.

Image courtesy of BNL
Hot cells used to purify highly radioactive materials for medical use.

The Science

The Brookhaven Linac Isotope Producer (BLIP) provides high energy protons to specialized targets to create radioisotopes with medical utility, either diagnostic or therapeutic.

The Impact

In its 42 year history the BLIP and associated hot lab facility have prepared dozens of radioisotopes used in medical research and patients, including imaging with Xenon-127 for lung problems, Iodine-123 for thyroid and Strontium-82 for heart.


Nuclear medicine depends on the properties of radioisotopes to either emit gamma rays that can be used to create images of organ function, or to emit beta or alpha particles can be used to treat cancers. The capability of the BLIP to irradiate special targets with high energy protons permits the development and production of useful radioisotopes not available from smaller accelerators in the commercial sector. For example Sr-82 and its very short lived decay product Rb-82 (distributed by Bracco Diagnostics as Cardiogen-82) is now used to assess cardiac problems in tens of thousands of patients per year. A recent exciting research effort is to produce Ac-225, an alpha particle emitter, which shows promise for the treatment of blood borne tumors, such as leukemia.


Dr. Leonard F. Mausner
Collider Accelerator Department, Brookhaven National Laboratory


DOE Office of Science, Office of Nuclear Physics, Isotope Program


D.G. Medvedev, L.F. Mausner, G.E. Meinken, S.O Kurczak, H.J. Schnakenberg, E. Korach, C.J, Dodge, S.C.Srivastava, Development of a large scale production of Cu-67 from Zn-68 at the high energy accelerator: closing the Zn-68 cycle. Appl. Radiat. Isot. 70, 423-429 (2012).

S.C. Srivastava, L.F. Mausner,Therapeutic Radionuclides:Production, Physical Characteristics, and Applications, in Medical Radiology-Radiation Oncology, [DOI: 10.1007/174 2012 782], Spring-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013.

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