Nuclear Science Center Facilities

There are a wide array of services available at the WSU Nuclear Science Center for researchers, including but not limited to the services listed below. If your research can be furthered by any of the analyses that we can perform, or if you need another reactor service, please feel free to contact the facility staff.

WSU Reactor

Located in the Dodgen Research Facility, the WSU Nuclear Science Center is the only research reactor in the State of Washington. The WSU Reactor offers experimental/research project advice and neutron irradiation of samples for research, commercial isotope production, and is capable of same day irradiation and shipping of high priority samples (rates apply) to most places in the continental U.S.

Radiotracer Production

Research materials require high purity and precision to produce reliable results. Our reactor and facilities have been producing research radiotracers for WSU Departments for decades, at low cost, fast turnaround, and superior service. We are capable of shipping radiotracers offsite to other institutions, as well as within the University to meet the needs of our clients. Since the WSU Nuclear Science Center and the RSO are in the same building, the movement of radiotracers to WSU laboratories is both fast and efficient.

Commercial Isotope Production

A nontrivial amount of the world’s isotope production capabilities are produced in the fleet of research reactors, many of which are located here in the United States. The WSU Nuclear Science Center Reactor Staff and specifically our reactor are uniquely qualified to produce commercial quantity and grade radioisotopes for industry. Our operators and administrators are experienced in production lines of many currently available radioisotopes and are knowledgeable in logistics and shipping of these isotopes to various sites throughout the country.

Neutron Activation Analysis Laboratory

Neutron Activation Analysis (NAA) is a nondestructive gamma analysis method used to determine elemental concentrations in unknown samples. It is especially useful for determining amounts of heavy metals (up to parts per billion) in samples often on the milligram scale. The department has many liquid nitrogen cooled high-purity germanium detectors that can run simultaneously for a host of NAA and gamma analysis needs.

X-Ray Diffraction

The WSU Nuclear Science Center operates a Bruker Smart Apex II system with an Apex2s CCD detector and an Oxford Cryosystems Cryostream 700 Controller. Single crystal X-ray diffraction (SCXRD) uses X-ray radiation diffracting off of the electron clouds of atoms to determine the three dimensional structure of a molecule or molecules in the solid state. The X-rays, diffracting according to Bragg’s Law, are measured in terms of their intensity and exact origin on a CCD camera, and then are fit to a computer model of the atomic crystal structure. The data are compared to this model and the measured atomic structure so that bond lengths, bond angles, and atomic interactions can be elucidated with great precision and accuracy.

Mass Spectrometry

The department houses an Agilent Series 4500 Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (ICP-MS). ICP-MS is a destructive analysis technique ideal for trace elemental analysis. Primarily used for trace metal analysis, the ICP-MS offers an excellent mix of precision, speed, and sensitivity. Using an argon based inductively coupled plasma to ionize a sample for mass spectrometry, the ICP-MS is capable of reaching detection limits in the mid to low ppb range for many material compositions.

Gamma Irradiation Facilities

Additionally, the WSU Nuclear Science Center contains a two separate gamma irradiation facilities. These gamma irradiation sources can be used for a wide array of research, for example sterilizing cells, plasma, and other biological materials. It has also facilitated the mutation of seeds, examination of the radiation protective effects of various compounds, and performance of radiation damage studies.

Radiochemistry Laboratories

Our available resources include several wet chemistry laboratories with fume hoods, a sample packaging lab used for trace-element analysis sample preparation, and technicians and scientists familiar with the techniques needed for radiochemical analysis. Spectroscopy and counting labs are available to researchers at the facility as are traditional laboratory spaces. Additionally, we provide office and laboratory space for the WSU Radiation Safety Office, facilitating material transfers to on-campus researchers. Our staff is fully trained in radioactive shipping procedures to expedite off-campus transfers that fall under Facility License R-76.

Alpha Spectroscopy

We maintain a series of alpha-particle spectrometers that can be used to determine quantities of the various isotopes of uranium, plutonium, americium, and thorium in most biological materials. Qualified staff members and researchers are available to aid in the best use of these specialized detectors.