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From left, ORNL’s Rick Lowden, Chris Bryan and Jim Kiggans were troubled that target discs of a material needed to produce Mo-99 using an accelerator could deform after irradiation and get stuck in their holder.

“Made in the USA.” That can now be said of the radioactive isotope molybdenum-99 (Mo-99), last made in the United States in the late 1980s. Its short-lived decay product, technetium-99m (Tc-99m), is the most widely used radioisotope in medical diagnostic imaging. Tc-99m is best known ...