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IAEA Conducts First Virtual Training on Using Ion Beam Techniques and Applications

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All demonstration videos from the First Virtual Training on Using Ion Beam Techniques and Applications are available here. (Image: IAEA)

The IAEA and Croatia’s Ruđer Bošković Institute (RBI) conducted the first live virtual training workshop on advances in ion beam techniques and their applications to minimize the impact of learning loss in nuclear science caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The five-day course focused on ion beam analysis (IBA) – a group of widely used non-destructive material analysis techniques – and attracted post-graduate students and young professionals from 16 countries.

The lack of training opportunities during the pandemic is affecting the professional development of the next generation of nuclear scientists. This is particularly true for skills requiring hands-on training to excel, such as accelerator applications, which is difficult to acquire remotely.

“We designed a virtual training that replicates as much as possible an actual in-person hands-on training in IBA, which makes this course so unique,” said Milko Jaksic, Head of the RBI Accelerator Laboratory.

The course included lectures and demonstration videos of typical ion beam experiments relevant to environmental studies, biology, cultural heritage, forensics science, and materials research. The data collected during these experiments was sent to participants for practice in data analysis and interpretation. The training course also included a virtual tour of the RBI accelerator facilities. All demonstration videos from the training course are available here.

“By conducting this live training course, we gave participants practical information on how to prepare and conduct an experiment and how to analyse real experimental data,” added Sotirios Charisopoulos, Nuclear Physicist at the IAEA.

The online training was attended by 17 female and 19 male young professionals, which is almost four times the number of participants the IAEA can accommodate during in-person trainings on IBA. This is the second of a series of IAEA trainings on nuclear techniques conducted in cooperation with RBI.

“The IBA virtual training course has given us real access to the beamline,” said Alassane Traoré, participant in the training from the Institute for Applied Nuclear Technology in Dakar. “This is a step forward towards giving access to more students to, what we call in Senegal, ‘inaccessible techniques’.”

The IAEA organizes annual training workshop series at the RBI’s accelerator facilities for young scientists from all over the world, especially from developing countries. The next workshop will be held virtually in November 2021 and will feature accelerator technology and associated instrumentation, including operation and maintenance aspects of ion beam accelerator facilities.

What is IBA?

IBA techniques are widely used non-destructive nuclear analytical methods, which rely on beams of low energy ions (charged particles) generated by electrostatic accelerators. These beams bombard the samples to be analysed, where they are scattered, which means that their initial trajectory is changed, or interact with the electrons and the nuclei of the sample material and produce X or gamma rays, or even new particles.

By counting the scattered ions, new particles, gamma and X rays with radiation detectors and further analysing the generated spectra with suitable software, scientists can obtain important and often unique information on the elemental and isotopic composition, depth profile, layer structure and other properties of the sample material.

Due to their high sensitivity and almost non-destructive analytical properties, IBA techniques are extensively used in a wide range of applications in materials analysis, environmental monitoring, cultural heritage, biosciences, food quality, forensics, among other fields.

The IAEA is currently leading six coordinated research projects on the subject:

IAEA e-learning platforms

The IAEA is working towards minimizing the impact of learning loss and eliminating global disparities in nuclear physics and related fields by offering e-learning materials and training courses, available on three topical portals:

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