From the IAEA archives: setting up the first nuclear science laboratory

Construction of the first IAEA laboratory in Seibersdorf, about 30 km from the Agency’s headquarters in Vienna, was inaugurated by the first Director General, William Sterling Cole, in 1959. The laboratory came into operation three years later and the following year welcomed the first international training course participants. This first laboratory distributed information on radioactive isotopes reference sources to Member State laboratories and their medical facilities to calibrate radiation measuring instruments. Today, more than 130 scientists, technicians and other staff from around the world work on-site in the laboratories. An additional 300 to 400 plus scientists are trained on-site each year. The Seibersdorf laboratories have since expanded significantly, now housing the Safeguards Analytical Laboratories and eight Nuclear Applications laboratories, carrying out research in various areas such as food and agriculture, human health, environmental monitoring and the use of nuclear analytical instruments.

All images are from the IAEA Archives.

Kymograph measuring tension and motion of rabbit intestine. A strip of intestine is put into the constant temperature bath, the specimen being connected by a lever system to a stylus which records its motions on a moving blackened paper.  29 November 1958. Please credit IAEAA sample being put into a well-type scintillation counter. A large part of the radiation from the sample hits the crystal - visible as a white ring within the heavy lead shield - producing small flashes of light, called scintillations. The rate of scintillations is a measure of the amount of radioactive substances in the sample.  29 November 1958. Please credit IAEAInstrument for measuring radioactivity at very low intensities. An automatic camera photographs the readings every hour.  29 November 1958. Please credit IAEA
Construction of the IAEA laboratory in Seibersdorf was inaugurated by William Sterling Cole, the first Director General, on 28 September 1959.  $600,000, the estimated cost for construction and equipment, was donated by the United States Government. September 1959. Please credit IAEA
William Sterling Cole, the first Director General of IAEA, pours the first load of concrete into the foundations of the new laboratory to inaugurate construction on 28 September 1959. The laboratory came into operation three years later. Please credit IAEAStaff from the Division of Research and Laboratories. Left, Prof Alexandre Sanielevici. Right,  Maria Chino. Background, Andre Gandy. February 1960. Please credit IAEALaboratory at IAEA Headquarters in Vienna. Left to Right: Dr. Otto Suschny, Mr. Johannes Veselskyj and Professor Alexandre Sanielevici of the Division of Research and Laboratories.  2 February 1960. Please credit IAEA  IAEA laboratory, Vienna.  Dr. Otto Suschnys (left), Professor Alexandre Sanielevici, (right), of the Division of Research and Laboratories.  2 February 1960.  Please credit IAEA Apparatus is checked, assembled and serviced and new apparatus developed. British counters, a US oscilloscope and a Dutch recorder form part of the international equipment. October 1961. Please credit IAEAProfessor Alexandre Sanielevici (left),  Dr. Erich Keroe (right), both of the Division of Research and Laboratories. 2 February 1960.  Please credit IAEA Foreground - counters and generators from seven nations: Japan, UK, France, USA, Poland, Federal Republic of Germany and the Netherlands. Through the window - Dr. Keroe in his office.  October 1961. Please credit IAEA   IAEA laboratory, Seibersdorf, Austria. October 1961. Please credit IAEA Outside the window in the background is the Oesterreichische Studiengesellschaft reactor. The IAEA laboratory will use the facilities of the Austrian reactor for activation analysis.  October 1961.  Please credit IAEA  In the Standardisation Section at the IAEA laboratory in Seibersdorf. October 1961. Please credit IAEAA dummy being used to demonstrate the accurate measurement of radioiodine uptake by the thyroid gland. The photo shows the distance being measured between the mock thyroid of the dummy and the crystal of a scintillation detector. December 1961. Please credit IAEA.Two samples of milk ash are analysed for the radioactive isotope strontium 90 by Annedore Meeves. Precipitation of iron hydroxide as scavenger for certain radioisotopes interfering with the strontium analysis. February 1962. Please credit IAEACalorimeter  built at the IAEA laboratory in Seibersdorf with precision of measurement +/- 0.5%.  February 1962. Please credit IAEA  Automatic micro-calorimetric apparatus used to conduct studies on the contamination of the biosphere in the Standardization Section of the IAEA laboratory in Seibersdorf. August 1962.  Please credit IAEAAutomatic micro-calorimetric apparatus used to conduct studies on the contamination of the biosphere in the Standardization Section of the IAEA laboratory in Seibersdorf. August 1962.  Please credit IAEAMass spectrometer being used to determine the nitrogen-15 content of some plant materials fed with fertilizer enriched in this stable isotope. October 1963.  Please credit IAEAInstallation presented by the French Government.  The picture shows the interior of the airtight cell, the lead-shielding and, through the radiation proof window, Professor Alexandre Sanielevici, of the Division of Research and Laboratories, opening a container with the help of a manipulator (left foreground).  February 1963.  Please credit IAEA  Scientists and technicians from member states receive practical training on a variety of radiation and radioisotope applications at the IAEA laboratory in Seibersdorf. The photo shows a Japanese fellow conducting experiments in the radiochemistry section. Please credit IAEA/GOLDBERGERIAEA staff member Lincoln Engelbert operating a scaler on the apparatus for the separation of tritium and hydrogen by gas chromatography at the IAEA laboratory in Seibersdorf. April 1964. Please credit IAEAJulian Czakow, IAEA staff member, adjusting the electrode distance of a Polish distillation furnace for spectrographic samples. April 1964. Please credit IAEAStaff member, Maurice Petel at the X-ray proportional counter in the lead house used for the standardization of electron capture nuclides.  April 1964. Please credit IAEAIAEA staff member Helga Axmann analysing for trace elements in plant material by a distillation method in the laboratory in Seibersdorf, near Vienna.  April 1964. Please credit IAEA  Daniella Harell, IAEA staff member, working on the multichannel analyser at the laboratory in Seibersdorf, near Vienna, Austria. April 1964. Please credit IAEA   Kurt Schärf, staff member, at the vacuum evaporation plant used for gold-coat source mounts to eliminate static electricity. April 1964.  Please credit IAEA  Turning a knob on the 512-channel gamma spectrometer donated to the laboratory by Finland, is Otto Suschny, head of the Environmental Radioactivity Section. The new instrument makes possible the simultaneous and rapid determination of several radionuclides in up to four samples at a time and will help save time analysing samples for scientific and health protection purposes.  In the background: Herbert Frittum, IAEA staff member.  April 1964. Please credit IAEA Hans Grasmuk and Olga Milosevic-Golwig, staff members, in front of the hot cell used for the remote handling of radioisotopes at the IAEA laboratory in Seibersdorf. April 1964. Please credit IAEAAn adiabatic micro-calorimeter developed in the laboratory at IAEA Headquarters, Vienna.  April 1964. Please credit IAEA/Egert A calorimetric system for absolute determination of radiation dose in terms of "rad". The instrument,constructed from tissue equivalent muscle material,can measure doses in radiation beams of Co60 kilocurie sources, betatrons, linear accelerators, etc., with radiation energies in the range of 0.5 MeV up to 50 MeV.  April 1964.  Please credit IAEA/Egert A calorimetric system for absolute determination of radiation dose in terms of "rad". The instrument,constructed from tissue equivalent muscle material,can measure doses in radiation beams of Co60 kilocurie sources, betatrons, linear accelerators, etc., with radiation energies in the range of 0.5 MeV up to 50 MeV.  April 1964.  Please credit IAEA/Egert 
An experiment to discover how to develop better varieties of rice by induced mutation. Mr. W.C. Li, an IAEA fellow, studying rice plants grown from irradiated seeds in the plastic hot house. September 1967.  Please credit IAEAResearch to apply nuclear techniques to increase the production of high-quality food and prevent food losses caused by insects and other pests is carried out by the IAEA in cooperation with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).  International research programmes have been established in soil fertility and water supply, crop mutation, plant breeding, insect control, animal production, food preservation and food protection.  A technician notes the reading on a mass spectrometer used for nitrogen analysis of plant materials at the IAEA laboratory in Seibersdorf.  1968-1969. Please credit IAEA   Research to apply nuclear techniques to increase the production of high-quality food and prevent food losses caused by insects and other pests is carried out by the IAEA in cooperation with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).  International research programmes have been established in soil fertility and water supply, crop mutation, plant breeding, insect control, animal production, food preservation and food protection.  The photograph shows the "hot-cell" at the IAEA laboratory in Seibersdorf near Vienna.  1968-1969. Please credit IAEA   A programme for thermal neutron activation analysis began in the Medical Physics Section to support requests for technical assistance in the biological and medical applications of activation analysis as research reactors and  isotope techniques become more widespread in developing countries.  A first step was setting up a sophisticated two parameter-ray spectrometer, the electronic part of which was donated by the French Government. The mechanical bench which supports the detectors, the shielding and the source support allowing precision adjustment of the source and detectors assembly were made at the IAEA's workshop. A physicist is shown introducing a sample into the apparatus. The whole assembly represents a new type of gamma spectrometer of much refined sensitivity and selectivity.   1968-1969. Please credit IAEA   Nuclear technology and applications in Food and Agriculture - Insect Pest Control: Medfly rearing. July-August 1969. Please credit IAEAPlant breeding at IAEA laboratory in Seibersdorf. 1969. Please credit IAEAPlant breeding at IAEA laboratory in Seibersdorf. 1969. Please credit IAEA
Nuclear technology and applications in Food and Agriculture - Insect Pest Control: Medfly rearing. 1969. Please credit IAEA/PREUSCHL Ulrike
Grain to be analysed for genetic differences in protein quantity and quality as part of research work in to atomic energy and food storage at the IAEA Seibersdorf laboratory. August 1974. Please credit IAEA/RABSON Robert
A specialty of the Seibersdorf laboratory is pest control by the sterile insect technique, in which insects are reared and sterilized before being released to mate with the pest population. One research programme relates to the control of tsetse flies by this means. The photo shows the application of controlled release formulations of pesticides prepared in the joint IAEA/FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) laboratory. 1985.  Please credit IAEAA wordwide network of research co-operation was established to enable interaction between IAEA scientists and research institutes in its Member States with an emphasis on agricultural and life sciences, especially in developing countries. Crop modification using mutation breeding was the objective of several such programmes. 1984-1986. Please credit IAEA/DAGLISH James
A wordwide network of research co-operation was established to enable interaction between IAEA scientists and research institutes in its Member States with an emphasis on agricultural and life sciences, especially in developing countries. Crop modification using mutation breeding was the objective of several such programmes. 1984-1986. Please credit IAEA/DAGLISH James
A wordwide network of research co-operation was established to enable interaction between IAEA scientists and research institutes in its Member States with an emphasis on agricultural and life sciences, especially in developing countries. Crop modification using mutation breeding was the objective of several such programmes. 1984-1986. Please credit IAEA/DAGLISH James
Training to enhance repair and maintenance procedures and thereby improve the infrastructure on which research programmes depended, as the frequent breakdown of electronic equipment in developing countries due to an erratic electric supply was a hindrance to the use of advanced techniques and could be very damaging to microprocessor-based equipment. 1984-1986. Please credit IAEA/DAGLISH James
Training to enhance repair and maintenance procedures and thereby improve the infrastructure on which research programmes depended, as the frequent breakdown of electronic equipment in developing countries due to an erratic electric supply was a hindrance to the use of advanced techniques and could be very damaging to microprocessor-based equipment. 1984-1986. Please credit IAEA/DAGLISH James
May 1999. Please credit IAEA/GAGGL Klaus
IAEA laboratory in Seibersdorf near Vienna. May 1999. Please credit IAEA/GAGGL Klaus
IAEA laboratory in Seibersdorf near Vienna. May 1999. Please credit IAEA/GAGGL Klaus
Plant breeding experts develop mutant plants tolerant to salinity in the Plant Breeding Section. Nguyen Thi My Giang and Arsenio Toloza with banana samples. Seibersdorf laboratory. May 1999. Please credit IAEA/PEREZ VARGAS Juanita
Scientist demonstrating the Neutron Moisture Probe to measure soil-water balance at the IAEA laboratory in Seibersdorf near Vienna. May 1999. Please credit IAEA/GAGGL Klaus
Seibersdorf laboratory. 1990-1996. Please credit IAEA
Seibersdorf laboratory. 1990-1996. Please credit IAEA
A specialty of the IAEA laboratory is pest control by the sterile insect technique, in which large numbers of insects are reared and sterilized before being released to mate with the pest population.  Scientist working on separation of males and female tsetse flies using a flytrap. 1993-1997. Please credit IAEA
A Japanese expert mass spectrometrist measures the isotopic composition and elemental concentration of uranium in safeguards samples. 1993-1997. Please credit IAEA
Last update: 23 August 2019

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