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Nuclear Physics Isotope Science and Technology

Please Note that a Letter of Intent is due Tuesday, September 08, 2015 5:00pm ETProgram Area Overview Office of Nuclear Physics   Nuclear physics (NP) research seeks to understand the structure and interactions of atomic nuclei and the fundamental forces and particles of nature as manifested in nuclear matter.  Nuclear processes are responsible for the nature and abundance of all matter, which in turn determines the essential physical characteristics of the universe.  The primary mission of the Nuclear Physics (NP) program is to develop and support the scientists, techniques, and facilities that are needed for basic nuclear physics research and isotope development and production.  Attendant upon this core mission are responsibilities to enlarge and diversify the Nation’s pool of technically trained talent and to facilitate transfer of technology and knowledge to support the Nation’s economic base.  Nuclear physics research is carried out at national laboratories and accelerator facilities, and at universities.  The Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility (CEBAF) at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (TJNAF) allows detailed studies of how quarks and gluons bind together to make protons and neutrons.  In an upgrade currently underway, the CEBAF electron beam energy will be doubled from 6 to 12 GeV.  The Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) is forming new states of matter, which have not existed since the first moments after the birth of the Universe; a beam luminosity upgrade is currently underway. NP is supporting the development of a future Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) currently under construction at Michigan State University.  The NP community is also exploring opportunities with a proposed electron_ion collider.   The NP program also supports research and facility operations directed toward understanding the properties of nuclei at their limits of stability, and of the fundamental properties of nucleons and neutrinos.  This research is made possible with the Argonne Tandem Linac Accelerator System (ATLAS) at Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) which provides stable and radioactive beams as well as a variety of species and energies; a local program of basic and applied research at the 88_Inch Cyclotron of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL); the operations of accelerators for in_house research programs at two universities (Texas A&M University and the Triangle Universities Nuclear Laboratory (TUNL) at Duke University), which provide unique instrumentation with a special emphasis on the training of students; non_accelerator experiments, such as large standalone detectors and observatories for rare events.  Of interest is R&D related to future experiments in fundamental symmetries such as neutrinoless double_beta decay experiments and measurement of the electric dipole moment of the neutron, where extremely low background and low count rate particle detections are essential. Another area of R&D is rare isotope beam capabilities, which could lead to a set of accelerator technologies and instrumentation developments targeted to explore the limits of nuclear existence.  By producing and studying highly unstable nuclei that are now formed only in stars, scientists could better understand stellar evolution and the origin of the elements. Our ability to continue making a scientific impact on the general community relies heavily on the availability of cutting edge technology and advances in detector instrumentation, electronics, software, accelerator design, and isotope production.  The technical topics that follow describe research and development opportunities in the equipment, techniques, and facilities needed to conduct and advance nuclear physics research at existing and future facilities.  For additional information regarding the Office of Nuclear Physics priorities, click here.  TOIPC 25:  Nuclear Physics Isotope Science and Technology  Maximum Phase I Award Amount:  $150,000 Maximum Phase II Award Amount:  $1,000,000 Accepting SBIR Phase I Applications:  YES Accepting SBIR Fast_Track Applications:  YES Accepting STTR Phase I Applications:  YES Accepting STTR Fast_Track Applications:  YES  Stable and radioactive isotopes are critical to serve the broad needs of modern society and to research in chemistry, physics, energy, environmental sciences, material sciences and for a variety of applications in industry and national security. A primary goal of the Department of Energy?s Isotope Development and Production for Research and Applications Program (Isotope Program) within the Office of Nuclear Physics (NP) is to support research and development of methods and technologies which make available isotopes used for research and applications that fall within the Isotope Program portfolio.  The Isotope Program produces isotopes that are in short supply in the U.S. and of which there exists insufficient domestic commercial production capability; some exceptions include some special nuclear materials and molybdenum_99, for which the National Nuclear Security Administration has responsibility. The benefit of a viable research and development program includes an increased portfolio of isotope products, more cost_effective and efficient production/processing technologies, a more reliable supply of isotopes year_round and the reduced dependence on foreign supplies.  Additional guidance for research isotope priorities is provided in the Nuclear Science Advisory Committee Isotopes (NSACI) report published in 2008 and available at (https://science.energy.gov/np/nsac/). An updated version of this report will be published in 2015. The NSACI reports serve to guide production plans and research activities supported by the Isotope Program  All entities submitting proposals to SBIR/STTR Isotope Science and Technology topic must recognize the moral and legal obligation to comply with export controls and policies that relate to the transfer of knowledge that has relevance to the production of special nuclear materials (SNM).  All parties are responsible for U.S. Export Control Laws and Regulations, which include but may not be limited to regulations within the Department of Commerce, Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Department of Energy.  a. Novel or Improved Production Techniques for Radioisotopes or Stable Isotopes  Research should focus on the development of advanced, cost_effective and efficient technologies for producing isotopes that are in short supply and that are needed by research or applied communities. This includes advanced accelerator and beam transport technologies such as the application of high_gradient particle accelerating structures, high_energy/high_current cyclotrons, or other technologies that could lead to compact sources and target approaches needed to optimize isotope production. The development of high quality, robust accelerator targets is required to utilize high_current high_power_density available from advanced accelerators; of particular concern is the design and fabrication of encapsulated salt targets and liquid metal targets.  These targets could be subjected to energies greater than 50 MeV at beam currents of 100 ?A to 750 ?A. The successful research grants should lead to breakthroughs that will facilitate an increased supply of isotopes that complement the existing portfolio of isotopes produced and distributed by the Isotope Program. This includes breakthroughs in in_situ target diagnostics, novel self-healing materials with extreme radiation resistance for accelerator target material containment or encapsulation. Improved thermal and mechanical modeling capabilities that include target material phase change and variable material density are also of interest to assist design of targets exhibiting high tolerance to extreme radiation and thermal environments.  The development of innovative technologies that will lead to new or advanced methods for production of radioisotopes needed by the scientific community, the medical community, industry, or for national purposes is encouraged. The 2009 NSAC_I report provides exemplary guidance; this report will be updated in 2015. In the medical community, production of radionuclides capable of functioning as diagnostic/therapeutic pairs or combining both traits are of particular interest (e.g., 64Cu/67Cu or 44Sc/47Sc), as are novel or in_demand radionuclides with radioactive emissions of high linear energy transfer (LET), which are useful because of their potential for high toxicity to diseased cells while sparing nearby healthy tissue from damage. Proposed technologies must have real potential to ensure a cost_effective and stable supply and distribution of such isotopes. Development of technologies advancing production, handling and distribution/transportation of isotopes are encouraged. In addition, new approaches to hot_cell target fabrication technologies that will facilitate the recycling of precious target materials used in production of high purity radioisotopes are also sought. An area of significant interest is development of automation or robotics to handle and process large mass, highly radioactive thick targets typically used in high energy and photo_transmutation accelerator based production.  Grant applications are also sought for new technologies to produce large quantities of enriched isotopes.  Enriched stable isotopes are used in radioisotope production targets and are important in fundamental nuclear physics experiments.  Development of process technologies aimed at optimizing the recovery and recycling of enriched stable isotopes is of interest. Isotopes of interest for nuclear physics measurements include kg to ton quantities of germanium_76 (76Ge), selenium_82 (82Se), tellurium_130 (130Te) and xenon_136 (136Xe).  New production methods for mg quantities of trans uranium elements such as californium_249 (249Cf), californium_251 (251Cf) and berkelium_249 (249Bk), and ng quantities of einsteinium_254 (254Es), and fermium_257 (257Fm) of interest to the heavy element research community. These and other materials are needed for chemistry research, rare particle and rare decay experiments, and heavy element creation in nuclear physics research. Guidance for research isotope priorities is provided in the 2009 NSACI report. https://science.energy.gov/np/nsac/ as updated in the soon to be published 2015 NSACI long range plan.  Novel methods are also sought for separation of stable isotopes that are needed in small quantities, as listed in the NSACI reports.  Questions ? Contact: Manouchehr.farkhondeh@science.doe.gov. Also can contact the NP Topic Associate (TA) listed at the beginning of the References section for this topic.   b. Improved Radiochemical Separation Methods for Preparing High_Purity Radioisotopes  Separation from contaminants and bulk material and purification to customer specifications are critical processes in the production cycle of a radioisotope. Many production strategies and techniques used presently rely on old technologies and/or require a large, skilled workforce to operate specialized equipment, such as manipulators for remote handling in hot cell environments.  Conventional separation methods may include liquid_liquid extraction, column chromatography, electrochemistry, distillation or precipitation and are used to separate radioactive and non_radioactive trace metals from target materials, lanthanides, alkaline and alkaline earth metals, halogens, or organic materials. High_purity isotope products are essential for high_yield protein radiolabeling for radiopharmaceutical use, or to replace materials with undesirable radioactive emissions. Improved product specifications and reduced production costs can be achieved through improvements in separation methods. Of particular interest are developments that automate routine separation processes in order to reduce operator labor hours and worker radiation dose, including radiation hardened semi_automated modules for separations or radiation hardened automated systems for elution, radiolabeling, purification, and dispensing. Such automated assemblies should be easily adaptable to different processes and different hot cell configurations, and should consider ease of compliance with current good manufacturing practices (cGMP) for clinically relevant radionuclides.   Applications are sought for innovative developments and advances in separation technologies to reduce processing time, to minimize radiation exposure to personnel, to improve separations efficiencies, to automate separation systems, to minimize waste streams, and to develop advanced materials for highpurity radiochemical separations.  In particular, the Department seeks breakthroughs in lanthanide and actinide separations.  Incremental improvements are also encouraged, such as (1) in the development of higher binding capacity and selectivity of resins and adsorbents for radioisotope separations to decrease void volume and to increase activity concentrations, (2) the scale_up of separation methods demonstrated on a small scale to large_capacity production level, and (3) new resin and adsorbent materials with increased resistance to radiation..     In actinide radiochemistry, innovative methods are sought a) to improve radiochemical separations of or lower_cost approaches for producing high_purity alpha_emitting radionuclides such as radium_225, actinium_225 and actinium_227 from contaminant metals, including thorium, radium, lead, lanthanides, and/or bismuth; or b) to improve ion_exchange column materials needed for generating lead_212 from radium_224, and bismuth_213 from actinium_225 and/or radium_225. Advanced methods for the preparation of high purity radium_225 and actinium_225 from irradiated thorium targets are of particular interest.  The new technologies must be applicable in extreme radiation fields that are characteristic of chemical processing involving high levels of alpha_and/or beta_/gamma_emitting radionuclides.   Recent advances in translation and clinical trials of alpha_particle mediated therapies have focused attention on the production and purification of long lived parent radionuclides for radium_223 and lead212 production.  Regulatory approval for the treatment of metastatic bone cancer originating from advanced prostate cancer using radium_223 dichloride has been obtained from the US Food and Drug Administration and initial phase I clinical trials of lead_212_TCMC_Trastuzumab for treatment of HER_2 expressing carcinoma (e.g., ovarian, pancreatic, peritoneal), are currently being conducted in the US.  However sufficient amounts of the parent isotopes are not available to support full clinical implementation. Innovative methods are sought for 1) the production of actinium_227 and thorium_228, 2) the purification of actinium_227 and thorium_228 from contaminating target materials and decay chain daughters, and 3) the generation of high specific activity radium_223 and lead_212 for clinical applications. 4) the development and production of matched pair imaging isotopes for the alpha emitters to accurately determine patient specific dosimetry to improve treatment efficacy and safety.  Proposals that consider novel production schemes for other alpha_emitting isotopes with potential therapeutic utility would also be of interest.  Questions ? Contact: Manouchehr.farkhondeh@science.doe.gov. Also can contact the NP Topic Associate (TA) listed at the beginning of the References section for this topic.   c. Other In addition to the specific subtopics listed above, the Department invites grant applications in other areas that fall within the scope of the topic description above.  Questions ? Contact: Manouchehr.farkhondeh@science.doe.gov   

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