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From the origin of the elements to the technological applications: exploring nature with accelerated ions


From the origin of the elements to technological applications: Exploring Nature with Accelerated Ions. This theme project seeks, through several complementary points of view, to study fundamental properties of the atomic nucleus, at low energies, using as a basic tool accelerated beam of heavy ions. Further, the project seeks to develop and improve the use of the heavy ion beam and the knowledge acquired through basic research of nuclear properties in other areas of science as well as innumerous technological applications. Technological innovation developed over the last decade, e.g. production of beam of unstable elements, have opened new perspectives bringing a new impetus to the research even though the basic instrumentation used in these studies was developed many years ago. With the advent of radioactive beams, the basic question of the origin of the elements, whose foundation was set over fifty years ago and was accompanied by parallel theoretical developments, can only now, be tested and quantified experimentally. On the other hand, the impressive evolution and subsequent inexpensive access to computational capacity, has made possible enormous strides in theoretical predictions, opening up new research program which may be investigated in our installations. A large portion of the knowledge generated by these studies, as well as the development of the experimental tools for fundamental research, has led to a large number of applications in medicine, analysis and modification of materials, study of the properties of crystalline structures and even biological materials. The innumerous applications in medicine, for both diagnosis and treatment of tumors, already well established technique, are improved constantly with the advancement of technological capability. In more fundamental studies, principally related to genetics, the use of heavy ion beams has undergone considerable development in parallel with the impressive increase in techniques of genetic mapping Likewise, the analysis and modification of materials with the use of accelerated ions has shown an accentuated increase in recent decades. Techniques such as PIXE, PIGE, and ERDA are used routinely in analysis of materials of technological and archeological interest as well as studies of processes of environmental degradation and certification of art works. The use of nuclear processes in energy production, e.g. fission reactors, was highly developed by the beginning of the 1980´s, when restrictions due to possible catastrophes related to the technology as well as difficulties in radioactive waste disposal, caused a decrease in the use for these applications. However, about ten years ago, it was shown that Accelerator Driven Systems may be used both for the burning of radioactive waste generated by conventional reactors and for development of a new generation of sub critical reactors... (AU)

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