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Status and Future Plan of Rare Isotope Science Project

Goal Establishment of a domestic heavy-ion accelerator(RAON) for advanced basic science research on rare isotopes
Resource 200MeV/u beam energy, 400kW beam output accelerator
Performance World’s first facility to produce rare isotopes by combining ISOL and IF
Period 2011 to 2021
location The International Science and Business Belt Sindong-area(Daejeon Yusoeng-gu)
Scale Total expenses: KRW 1,429,800 million (460.2 billion for device establishment, 609.6 billion for facility construction, 360 billion for land purchase)
Site 952,066㎡ (approx. 290,000 pyeong), total floor area 130,144㎡ (approx. 40,000 pyeong)
Expected Delivery of world-class research results based on global competitiveness in basic science
outcomes Stimulation of local industries and enhanced technical capacities through acquisition of novel technology
Details Devices Development, installation and operation of ionizing devices that supply heavy-ion beams to RAON; acceleratings devices; rare isotope producing devices and experimental apparatuses
Facility Construction of research and supporting facilities (accelerator tunnels, laboratories, supporting facility buildings, management building, dormitory, etc.) for stable operation of RAON and to create an environment conducive to creative research
Progress 2009 01 Establishment of a domestic heavy-ion accelerator(RAON) for advanced basic science research on rare isotopes research img
2010 06 Completion of heavy-ion accelerator pre-planning studyresearch img
2011 02 Completion of conceptual design report(CDR) for RAON
12 Launch of RAON construction task force
2012 01 Establishment of basic plan for RAON establishmentresearch img
2013 06 Completion of technical design report(TDR) for RAON
09 Change of basic plan for RAON establishment (1st)
2014 05 Confirmation of basic plan for RAON establishmentresearch img
07 Confirmation of facility construction plan
12 Start of basic design of facility construction
2015 04 Change of basic plan for RAON establishment (2nd)research img
12 Completion of basic design of facility construction plan
2016 10 Start of working design of facility construction plan
2017 06 Takeover of site (Site renovation by LH)
09 Review of working design of facility construction
10 Start of building constructionresearch img
2018 10 Start of RAON installation
2020 12 Completion of building constructionresearch img
2021 12 Completion of RAON installation


Isotopes or twin atoms

Atoms are basic units of nature. Atoms are made of protons, neutrons and electrons. Atomic properties are determined by the number of such constituents. The number of protons determines the atomic number and chemical properties, while the atomic mass is equal to the sum of protons and neutrons.

Isotopes are twin atoms with the same number of protons and thus the same atomic number but different numbers of neutrons. Each element has several different isotopes. Scientists have discovered 118 elements and about 3,000 isotopes to date.


Hidden, undiscovered rare isotopes

Rare isotopes are isotopes that have not yet been discovered because they are rare and decay rapidly. They must be produced or discovered by artificial means because they no longer exist or only remain in very small traces on the earth.

The nuclear chart shows the distribution of stable isotopes existing on the earth, artificially discovered isotopes, and rare isotopes that have not yet been discovered. Scientists believe that there are a greater number of undiscovered rare isotopes than the number of known atoms.

Heavy-ion accelerator, a science facility for rare isotopes

An accelerator is a device that accelerates particles with electric charges, such as electrons, protons and ions. Depending on the accelerated particle and the purpose of utilization, accelerators can be classified into synchrotron accelerators, proton accelerators, baryon accelerator, and heavy-ion accelerators. Among these accelerators, heavy-ion accelerators are used to produce rare isotopes that have not been observed in nature.


Principle of rare isotope production

Heavy-ion accelerators ionize atoms heavier than hydrogen and helium, and cause them to collide with target atoms. Such collisions unlock physics on a scale smaller than atoms, leading to the discovery of new, rare isotopes.


Methods of rare isotope production

The two methods of producing rare isotopes with existing accelerators are Isotope Separation On-Line (ISOL) and In-flight Fragmentation (IF).

ISOL (Isotope Separation On-Line)

Acceleration of light atomic ions for collisions with heavy atomic targets
Production of large amounts of rare isotopes

Accelerated light atomic ions are collided with heavy element target, and rare isotopes are extracted from the fragmentation of the target. This method produces a large abundance of rare isotopes, and the material obtained from repeated extractions has a high purity.


IF (In-flight Fragmentation)

Acceleration of heavy atomic ions for collisions with light atomic targets
Production of various rare isotopes

Accelerated heavy ions are collided with a light element target, and then rare isotopes of interest are extracted from many kinds of very fast moving fragmented heavy ion beams via a rapid separation of very short lived rare isotopes using strong magnets.


Unique generation of highly rare isotopes by RAON(ISOL+IF)

While accelerators around the world rely on either ISOL or IF, RAON will be the first kind of facility having ISOL and IF method combined in addition to each ISOL and IF method available. After producing rare isotopes with ISOL, RAON again accelerates them with IF. This creates the possibility of discovering new and rare isotopes.
RAON is expected to increase the rate of discovery of rare isotopes, whilst producing them in larger quantities and in greater variety.


Applied science research field of RAON experimental systems

Nuclear science

The discovery of new atoms and the identification of the principles behind atomic production will open new horizons for atomic science.

Research areas
  • Origin of elements and the evolution of stars
  • Nuclear structure and nuclear force
  • Nuclear reactions and nuclear structure experiments
  • Nuclear science theory

  • KOrea Broad acceptance Recoil spectrometer and Apparatus (KOBRA): Examination of the production of rare isotopes and nuclear structures based on processes resulting from collisions between nuclei of rare isotopes and stable atoms
  • Large Acceptance Multi-Purpose Spectrometer (LAMPS): Examination of high density states of substances through collisions of neutron-rich rare isotopes
  • Nuclear Data Production System (NDPS): Production of precise atomic nuclear reaction data on high-speed neutrons and rare isotope nuclear materials

Physical science

Electromagnetic microstructures are studied in a non-destructive manner using muons.

Research areas
  • Development of ultra-sensitive device for measurement of physical properties
  • Study of physical properties of new materials including high-temperature superconductors, semiconductors, nano-magnetic materials and topological insulators

  • Muon Spin Relaxation (μSR): Examination of new and unique phenomena such as superconductivity, nano-magnetism and topological insulation based on the measurements of local electromagnetic properties of new materials using muons

Atomic and molecular science

The various types of atomic structures can be categorized based on precise measurements of mass, size and shape of rare isotopes.

Research areas
  • Precise measurement of rare isotope mass and development of atomic manipulation technology
  • Development of micro-measurement technology for atomic structures
  • Precise measurement of basic physical constants

  • Mass Measurement System (MMS): Device that categorizes rare isotopes and discovers new atoms based on precise mass measurements
  • Collinear Laser Spectroscopy (CLS): Categorization of rare isotopes and determination of their nuclear characteristics based on changes in atomic energy levels and shapes of rare isotopes

Biomedical science

Safer and more effective biomedical methods can be developed using the different properties of rare isotopes.

Research areas
  • Development of cancer treatment methods using rare isotopes
  • Development of breeding methods

  • Beam Irradiation System (BIS): Development of new biomedical techniques for cancer treatment, breeding, etc., by exposing biological tissue to rare isotope beams or heavy-ion beams to perform cell destruction and DNA modification

Bird’s eye view


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