The University of Birmingham has its own Cyclotron used for the production of medical isotopes for hospitals and to produce short-lived positron emitting isotopes for positron emission tomography (PET) and positron emission particle tracking (PEPT) studies within the Nuclear Physics Group. This machine also provides beams for undergraduate student projects, for detector testing, and for radiation damage studies. Beam energies of up to 40, 20, 53 and 40 MeV are available for 1H, 2H, 3He and 4He ions, with intensities ranging from a few nanoAmps up to tens of microamps with raster scanning and water cooled targets. Very low intensity beams (106s-1) of protons can be produced for damage studies, using residual hydrogen in the machine.
At the University of Birmingham the Positron Imaging Centre allows the study of flow using positron emitting radioactive tracers. The techniques used are variants of the medical technique of positron emission tomography (PET), adapted by Birmingham for engineering applications.
The original positron camera, consisting of a pair of multiwire proportional chambers (MWPCs), has been operating since 1984. In 1999 a second, much more powerful positron camera was purchased, this camera is a commercially available gamma camera PET system (ADAC Forte).
Fluid tracers have been used for applications including imaging the lubricant distribution in engines and gearboxes, and dynamic studies of fluid flow through geological samples (relevant to underground nuclear waste storage).
The technique of positron emission particle tracking (PEPT), developed at Birmingham, allows a single positron-emitting tracer particle to be accurately tracked at high speed and has proved to be a very powerful tool for studying the behaviour of granular materials and viscous fluids in systems such as mixers and fluidised beds.
The Nuclear Physics team is concerned with understanding the properties of nuclei over a range of scales, extending from nuclei in stable atoms, via exotic nuclei, to quarks. The main areas of capability include positron emission particle tracking, relativistic heavy ion collisions, exotic beams studies and laser spectroscopy of unstable isotopes.