Are there any risks from working or living near the facility?

Designed and operated to meet or exceed the highest federal safety standards, the facility is regulated by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and Health Canada, and conforms to the University of Saskatchewan's health and safety policies. Access to the cyclotron and the associated lab is tightly controlled through a variety of safeguards. Specialized air and waste handling systems guard against accidental releases of radioisotopes outside the facility. Lab work with radioisotopes take place in sealed and shielded hot cells designed to contain spills.  Isotopes produced in the facility do not last very long and decay to negligible amounts in a matter of hours.


How is a cyclotron different from a synchrotron?

Both are particle accelerators. A cyclotron uses a constant magnetic field and a constant frequency electric field, whereas a synchrotron uses varying electric and magnetic fields and can accelerate particles to much higher energies.  A cyclotron can fit in a room.  A synchrotron is often the size of a football field.

cyclotron is a particle accelerator in which charged particles (protons) accelerate in a spiral outwards from the machine’s centre, accelerated by kicks of electric voltage and steered along their path by a magnetic field. Once the high-speed, high-energy protons get to the edge of the cyclotron chamber, the particles are directed down beamlines where they are used in experiments or to make radioisotopes for nuclear medicine and other purposes.

synchrotron such as the Canadian Light Source accelerates charged particles (electrons) in a circle using magnetic fields and radiowaves. Radiation (synchrotron light) given off by the electrons is used in experiments to study the structure of matter.

Facts and Figures

The Cyclotron A particle accelerator that produces radioisotopes by bombarding target materials with high-energy protons.
Cyclotron type Advanced Cyclotron Systems Inc. TR-24 cyclotron; 24 MeV, 200-500 microamps
Mass when fully assembled 25 tonnes
Cyclotron magnet dimensions 15 cubic metres (3x2.3x2.2 m)
Beamline One Y-shaped beamline, accommodating two target end stations for producing radioisotopes
Isotopes produced
  • Fluoride-18 (18F) for PET-CT scanning;
  • Carbon-11 (11C) and nitrogen-13 (13N) for research uses
The Cyclotron Vault
The vault is specially designed to ensure that no radiation produced by the cyclotron can exit into the rest of the facility or the environment
  • Roof and wall thickness: 2.5 m
  • Floor slab thickness: 1 m
  • Mass of roof slab: 1.4 million kg
  • Number of concrete trucks needed to pour roof: 82, delivering 505 cubic metres of special mix concrete