Methods for the Production of Radionuclides for Medicine

  • Lauren L. Radford
  • Suzanne E. LapiEmail author


Nuclear reactions involve the interaction of particles or photons with the nuclei of target atoms, resulting in the production of radioactive atoms that can be used in medicine for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes. The guiding principles and methods of radionuclide production are explored in this chapter, with a focus on reactor- and accelerator-based production. With few exceptions, nuclear reactors are used to produce neutron-rich nuclides that are mainly of interest for therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals, while cyclotrons are used to create proton-rich nuclides, which are of interest for diagnostic purposes. Additionally, generator systems and photonuclear production are briefly discussed. Included in this chapter are the practical considerations made when designing targets for radionuclide production, as well as simple tools used for predictive modeling of target behavior. The expansive combination of target materials and production methods has led to a wide range of possibilities for the development of new and exotic radionuclides—creating the framework for a well-equipped toolbox of radiopharmaceuticals.


Nuclear reactions Radionuclide production Nuclear reactors Cyclotrons Particle accelerators Linac Radionuclide generator Targetry Fission Q value 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of RadiologyUniversity of Alabama at BirminghamBirminghamUSA

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