Lab Spotlight

Hot Cells for Medical Isotopes

LabSpot hot cells isotopes 1438786954

Every year, more than a million cardiac, cancer, and other patients are helped by isotopes produced by the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) Isotope Program. Isotopes from Los Alamos are used to diagnose cardiac disease; for the calibration of PET scanners, which in turn diagnose cancer, neurological disease, inflammatory diseases, trauma, and other circulatory diseases; and are increasingly being investigated for their potential to treat a variety of localized pathologies. (Learn more about one recent breakthrough in this story we published in August.)

Isotopes produced at LANL lead to around 30,000 diagnostic procedures each month.

The highly radioactive materials used to produce these critical isotopes can only be handled remotely inside hot cells, which are heavily shielded concrete containments with leaded glass windows to protect radiochemists from the radiation inside. In this image, a worker uses remote manipulator arms to handle a highly radioactive target inside the lab’s radiochemistry hot cell facility.

Here, the target was irradiated with protons at the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center to produce critical medical radioisotopes before being processed inside the hot cells and sent on to external customers.

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