Overview of ARIEL

 

ARIEL Logo

The primary mission of ARIEL is to deliver unprecedented intensities of rare, short-lived exotic isotopes, and in particular those with extreme neutron excess, to simultaneous and multiple experiments, at the existing and world-leading ISAC accelerator complex.  A secondary mission of ARIEL is to anticipate future uses of e-linac technologies such as free electron lasers, and including commercial uses such as the production of medical isotopes by photo-fission.

ARIEL Celebration Promo from TRIUMFLab on Vimeo.

TRIUMF is committed to the development of new technologies that have social and economic relevance.  The latest of these is so-called "superconducting accelerator" technology that promises not only to propel Canada to the forefront of world research, but also to develop innovations in environmental remediation and the global medical-isotope market.  To fully develop this technology, TRIUMF and its partners are building the Advanced Rare IsotopE Laboratory (ARIEL).  This complex will house underground beam lines and a new target area.  ARIEL will substantially expand TRIUMF's prowess in internationally coveted rare-isotope beam physics.  Moreover, the ARIEL laboratory will provide leverage a University of Victoria-led project supported by the Canada Foundation for Innovation for a high-power electron accelerator using the "Made in Canada" superconducting technology. 

 

TRIUMF's cyclotron is capable of producing more high-quality isotope beams than can be exploited by the current facilities.  These beams are the central component of all TRIUMF's facilitated research.  TRIUMF plans to build a second beam line from the existing cyclotron, enhancing its core competency to create greater research opportunities by expanding both the type and number of experiments conducted.  Both of these beams must be housed within ARIEL and will transform the laboratory.  This new infrastructure will build on TRIUMF's past record of success and bring new research and economic benefits to British Columbia. 

TRIUMF plans to use the innovative technology known as superconducting radio-frequency technology to construct its world-unique, high-power electron accelerator (dependent upon federal support).  The core technology, being developed in BC by PAVAC Industries, Inc., is already breeding innovation with remarkable promise in a number of high-impact areas. 

TRIUMF is one of the world's leading physics laboratories for studying rare isotopes-unstable nuclei.  After significant NSERC investment in infrastructure, TRIUMF presently has some of the most sophisticated and modern detectors in the world for use in the study of rare isotopes. These detectors are ideally suited for studying new types of isotopes.  Other countries, such as Germany, have just announced major investments in this field of research.  Japan has just commissioned a new facility.  If Canada is to continue to be a world-leading player in this research, a facility like ARIEL is needed to exploit the latest in actinide target technologies that can produce new isotopes.  These experiments have the potential to make major discoveries as well as to unlock new techniques for identifying and harvesting medical isotopes. 

New rare isotopes underpin the next generation of medical isotopes for cancer treatment once they are mastered. Some of these new isotopes will produce alpha particles when they decay.  The alpha particle is the most destructive type of radiation when in contact with tissue and is the best candidate for destroying the DNA of cancer cells.  Ideally, these isotopes will also have gamma or positron decays as well, allowing the imaging of the radiotracer. Scientists will need to develop custom tracers and then connect these new isotopes to biological molecules in order to form the next generation "radiotracer molecules."  This emerging field (there are two such drugs on the market, Health Canada & U.S. FDA approved: antibody-based Zevalin & Bexxar for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma cancer therapy) will utilize the new isotopes produced by using actinide targets.  There are many challenges in producing pure quantities of the key medical isotopes.  Expertise in accelerator physics ion-source development (separating the isotope of interest from the many different types produced) and PET imaging will be crucial.  BC, through TRIUMF, is positioned to lead the coming revolution in nuclear medicine.

The complexity of using actinide targets and the development time needed to understand the ion sources requires a dedicated beam-line and facility.  The TRIUMF cyclotron, the world's largest particle accelerator of its type, would be capable of delivering more beam if an additional beam-line were available.  This requires a new underground tunnel complex linked to the existing experimental areas.  Existing detectors will be used to study the new isotopes.

ARIEL also expands TRIUMF's capabilities for accelerator-based research in other areas of innovative science and technology.  TRIUMF offers Canadian scientists a nearly globally unique capability for probing materials at the nanoscale with the muon spin-rotation and beta-NMR facilities.  ARIEL would dramatically elevate the stature of the region as a global centre for the research and development of the next wave of materials.  For example, TRIUMF's world-recognized research in "warm superconductors" would benefit enormously from ARIEL.  These materials would enable the transmission of electrical power with lower energy losses and decreased costs.