Birmingham accelerator and imaging facilities

The University of Birmingham has unique facilities, and the work we do – from nuclear research to isotope production for medical imaging – is wide-ranging, cutting-edge and life-changing.

Birmingham is the only university in the UK with an MC40 cyclotron (particle accelerator). Originally designed for industrial use, we have adapted it to enable us to also carry out fundamental research and push the frontiers of nuclear science.

The MC40 cyclotron is the latest in a series of particle accelerators operated at Birmingham since the 1930s. Brought over from America 15 years ago, it delivers a flexible range of ions and energies. It is capable of accelerating hydrogen (protons and deuterons) and helium (helium-3 and helium-4) with high intensities to energies at which it’s possible to perform nuclear reactions.

The flexibility and reliability of the cyclotron – and the expertise of our nuclear physics, particle physics and medical physics groups in manipulating its capabilities – have led to us carrying out a wide range of commercial and research work for, among others, hospitals, Formula 1 and CERN’s Large Hadron Collider.

Our activities have expanded significantly in the past few years. With the cyclotron only half-way through its expected lifespan, our aim is to broaden still further our research, as well as continuing our long-established applications and commercial work, thus bringing benefits to more users from across the UK nuclear community.