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Isotopes Uncovered program spotlights technical services

Isotopes Uncovered: Spotlight on Stable Isotope Technical Services

Watch the presentation by Jenny Conner and Mike Zach.   


Jenny Conner and Mike Zach of the Stable Isotope Materials and Chemistry group presented February's Isotopes Uncovered intradirectorate education program, spotlighting Stable Isotope Technical Services.

Conner's half of the presentation focuses on the development of a low-loss, minimal-exposure technique for thallium foil fabrication. Despite being essential to researchers worldwide — and available as a solid bead or ingot — nonisotopic thallium metal is no longer commercially produced as a foil because of its high toxicity and insidious contamination properties. Thallium was processed at ORNL as recently as 2007, but changes in the understanding of the material, its effect on the body, and safety culture at ORNL required the creation of a new procedure. This talk discusses building a conservative low-loss, high-yield process for safely producing 40 thallium foils.

Zach speaks on metal powders, a fundamental starting point for fabricating objects ranging from nuclear target foils to Electromagnetic Isotope Separation feedstock targets. Powder properties can differ drastically even when they are the same element because of differences in size, particle shape and surface chemistry. Zach's talk delves into the relatively unexplored space of transforming poorly behaved, solid metal powders into materials that flow like liquids, opening up new possibilities for collaboration across the laboratory.