Industry and medicine

Approximately every two years the VDI experts forum for non-destructive material testing takes place, which shows industrial users the latest research news. (Photo: W. Schürmann / TUM)

As a neutron source the FRM II is used for the solution of fundamental questions and notably for applied science. In addition, about 30% of the usable neutron flux is reserved for services, or for joint projects with industry. The facilities offered range from material analyses using neutron scattering (non-destructive testing, analysis using neutrons), which are possible at the 30 different beam tube instruments, to generation of stable and radio-active isotopes but also include radiation treatment of tumours. As a result, the FRM II's neutrons are used by the automotive, semiconductor and aerospace industries as well as mechanical engineering, chemistry, medical technology, environment and energy studies, geology, archeology and art history.

The FRM II provides industrial users with a number of advantages: The high neutron flux and modern instruments of the FRM II, its location close to the technical faculties of the Technische Universität München, good infrastructure on the site itself as well as proximity to the airport and a direct connection to the industrial sector in the north of Munich. Most important for the industrial users, is, however, the technical assistance from the academic and non-academic staff at the FRM II or MLZ. In addition, in 2005, with the support of the High-Tech Offensive Bayern, the Industrial User Center (IAZ) was built on the site of the FRM II and is used by, among others, the Isotopes Technologies Garching GmbH for the production of radiopharmaceuticals.

The FRM II offers industry and medicine the following services:

Activation of samples for analysis

Analysis with neutrons:   

  • simultaneous multi-element analysis via neutron activation analysis (NAA and PGAA),
  • activation of tracers for production monitoring,   
  • improving manufacturing processes,    
  • measurement of wear.

Irradiation for production purposes and medicine

  • radioisotopes for medicine and technology,
  • homogeneous doping of silicon for the semiconductor industry,
  • direct tumour exposure with fission neutrons.

Materials research aimed at development

  • alloys (precipitations, phase transformations): behavior at high temperatures (up to 2000 ° C) and / or under tensile,
  • batteries (chemical structures, phase transformations.): In operando characterisation of the molecular process during loading / unloading,
  • Workpieces (crankshaft, compressor, ...): residual stresses in the interior, texture determination,
  • optimized magnetic properties (storage materials),
  • development of new material resources (e.g. ceramics),
  • development of new production methods,
  • non-destructive visualization of loading with hydrogen in the development of hydrogen storage and fuel cells,
  • radiation resistance.

Radioisotopes: Cobalt-60, Lutetium-177, Holmium-166 and Terbium-161

Irradiation facility for large volumes. (Photo: A. Voit/TUM)

At the FRM II the radioactive cobalt-60 is produced via neutron capture by the stable isotope cobalt-59. The irradiated Co discs or wires are used primarily for the production of preparations which are used in density or level measurements and for calibration, as well as for sterilization.

Neutron capture converts Si in the stable isotope phosphorus-31. The so-doped semiconductors are needed for high  power applications.

The radioisotopes Lutetium-177, Ho-166 and Terbium-161, also produced in the reactor pool at the FRM II, serve first and foremost in tumour therapy, but occasionally in medical imaging, too. Technetium-99m is the most important and most commonly used isotope in nuclear medicine. It has a very wide range of applications in the field of diagnostic medicine and usually arises as a fission bi-product of the irradiation of uranium. From 2018/2019 on, the mother isotope Molybdenum-99 is to be produced in large quantities at the FRM II (see Mo-99). At the beam tube 10 tumour patients are directly treated with fission neutrons (tumour therapy).