English version

Inorganic sorption materials for 225Ra/225Ac and 225Ac/213Bi radionuclide generators for biomedical applications

(Ref. BAP-2016-636)

Tewerkstelling : Voltijds
Duur : Bepaalde duur
Plaats : Leuven
Solliciteren tot en met : 10/03/2017
PhD position "Inorganic sorption materials tailored for 225Ra/225Ac and 225Ac/213Bi radionuclide generators for biomedical applications" at the SCK•CEN in Mol (Belgium). A PhD student interested in this position is requested to contact the SCK-CEN mentor Dr. Karen Van Hoecke (email: kvhoecke@sckcen.be)For more information on the selection procedure: http://academy.sckcen.be/en/Your_thesis_internship/PhD_thesisFor more information on the project: http://academy.sckcen.be/en/Your_thesis_internship/AllTopics/Inorganic-sorption-materials-tailored-for-225Ra225Ac-and-225Ac213Bi-radionuclide-generators-for-biomedical-applications-1645Supervisor: Prof. Koen BinnemansCosupervisor: Prof. Thomas Cardinaels

Inorganic sorption materials for 225Ra/225Ac and 225Ac/213Bi radionuclide generators for biomedical applications

The research activities will be carried out in the Radiochemistry (RCA) expert group of the Belgian Nuclear Research Center (SCK•CEN) in Mol, Belgium. The Radiochemistry expert group investigates the chemical and radiochemical composition of different types of nuclear materials. Our analytical services play a key role in many research projects at SCK•CEN and are also offered to external clients. Via continuous R&D, radiochemical analytical methods are developed to anticipate future analytical needs. In addition to our analysis activities, we develop innovative radiochemical processes for the production of radio-isotopes, the partitioning of minor actinides and the production of nuclear fuels and transmutation targets.
More information on the Radiochemistry expert group can be found on the following website: http://science.sckcen.be/en/Institutes/NMS/RCA

This is a collaborative research project between the SCK•CEN, VITO and the University of Leuven (KU Leuven).


Biomedical applications of radionuclides, such as radiotherapy and medical imaging, require that the radionuclide of interest is extensively purified prior to administration to a patient. This is mostly achieved by chromatographic column separation. However, currently used chromatographic resins, such as alumina or organic ion exchange and extraction resins suffer from several drawbacks, e.g. limited shelf-life, low sorption capacity and radiolysis. Alternatively, amorphous activated carbon and titanium dioxide are examples of inorganic materials that can potentially overcome those limitations, provided that they are specifically tailored for radionuclidic separations. This project focuses on the development of such innovative inorganic sorption materials for the production of 225Ra/225Ac and 225Ac/213Bi generators. Initially, the mother isotope, resp. 225Ra and 225Ac, is sorbed onto a solid material with high affinity for the mother isotope. Due to radioactive decay, the daughter isotope, resp. 225Ac and 213Bi, accumulates in the material and can be eluted at regular intervals. Hence, cationic separations of Ra2+ from Ac3+ and Ac3+ from Bi3+ are required. Both 225Ac and 213Bi are key isotopes of interest in nuclear medicine for targeted alpha-therapy.

Objectives and methodology
The aim of this project is to synthesize and evaluate functionalized sorption materials for application in a new type of 225Ra/225Ac and 225Ac/213Bi generator. The target material must have the following characteristics: (1) high separation factors (SFs) for the ion pairs Ra/Ac and Ac/Bi), (2) high resistance against radiolysis, (3) high sorption capacity and (4) uniform spherical shape with narrow size distribution to allow optimal column packing.
The work flow set-up is composed of cyclic processes, each divided into 5 stages that will allow to systematically evaluate functionalised materials with respect to the abovementioned criteria. Subsequent stages are: (1) synthesis (2) evaluation of separation chemistry (3) evaluation of radiation resistance (4) final shaping into uniform spheres and (5) validation of the generator. In the first stage, functional groups will be introduced on porous carbon and/or titania powders. These surface groups can then be used as anchoring points for further chemical functionalisation aimed at designing a tailored surface chemistry. In the second and third stages, the essential criteria of separation chemistry and radiation stability will be evaluated, using a combination of batch experiments and irradiation studies. Distribution coefficients (KD) for cations of interest and separation factors will be determined as a function of solid and aqueous phase characteristics, before and after irradiation. In addition, after irradiation, SEM for particle morphology analysis and FT-IR spectroscopy for functional group analysis will allow to evaluate the radiation resistance of functionalized sorption materials. In the fourth stage, 1 or 2 materials will be selected to be shaped by controlled coagulation into spherical microspheres. The approaches used will either be based on the use of inorganic binders or the carbonisation of polymeric templates. The porous architecture of the microspheres will be analysed by a combination of analytical tools including N2 sorption, Hg porosimetry and SEM. Finally, the selected materials are evaluated by column chromatography for their performance as a new radionuclide generator.


- Required diploma: master in chemistry

- Profile:

Knowledge of molecular/materials synthesis andcharacterisation is a plus

Knowledge of solvent extraction and separation chemistryis a plus

Good skills in performing chemical experiments

Ability to work in an interdisciplinary and collaborativeenvironment

Ability to write clear scientific reports and disseminateresults

Good oral, interpersonal and written communication skills

Creative and self-motivated

Committed to achieve objectives and overcoming obstacles

Committed to safe working and operational procedures


4 year PhD position funded by the Belgian Nuclear Research Center (SCK•CEN). The student will also be affiliated to the KU Leuven - University of Leuven.


More information on the selection procedure can be found here: http://academy.sckcen.be/en/Your_thesis_internship/PhD_thesis
For more information on the project, please contact the SCK•CEN mentor of the project, Dr. Karen Van Hoecke (email: kvhoecke@sckcen.be).

You can apply for this job no later than March 10, 2017 via the

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