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Heavy Ion Laboratory (HIL)

Heavy Ion Laboratory at the University of Warsaw (Polish acronym ŚLCJ), founded jointly by Ministry of Education, Polish Academy of Sciences and Polish Atomic Energy Agency, is the only nuclear physics facility in Poland operating a heavy ion accelerator and equipped with modern spectrometers for experimental studies in the domain of nuclear spectroscopy and reactions. The Warsaw K=160 cyclotron provides beams of energies from 2 to 10MeV/amu and intensities up to a few hundreds pnA. In 2010 a new ECR ion source was commissioned at HIL, increasing the variety of ion beams available at the laboratory. In addition to beams of gaseous elements and of elements available from gaseous compounds ranging from boron to argon, metallic ion beams and ones of much heavier elements (krypton, silver...) will be delivered by the Warsaw Cyclotron. Installation of modern high-frequency generators that will improve the cyclotron reliability is scheduled for 2013.

HIL is an open “user facility”. Beam time is allocated by the Director based on the recommendation of the international Programme Advisory Committee. The only criteria are the scientific merit of the project and its technical feasibility. Experimental teams may take advantage of permanent set-ups installed on the beam lines or use their own dedicated equipment. Available apparatus include IGISOL – a Scandinavian type on-line separator, CUDAC – a PIN-diode array particle detection system, JANOSIK – a multidetector system consisting of a large NaI(Tl) crystal with passive and active shields as well as a 32-element multiplicity filter, and ICARE, a charged particles detector system used for their identification and energy measurements, moved to HIL from IReS Strasbourg. The most recent experimental tool, still being developed and improved, is the EAGLE array - multidetector γ-ray spectrometer, which can be easily coupled to ancillary detectors like internal conversion electron spectrometer, charged particle 4 π multiplicity filter (Si-ball), scattering chamber equipped with 100 PIN-diode detectors, 60-element BaF2 γ multiplicity filter, sectored HPGe polarimeter, plunger... In July 2011 the EAGLE setup was complemented by 20 high efficiency Ge detectors, loaned for two years by the European GAMMAPOOL consortium.

The research at HIL has proven to be successful in many domains. Outstanding experimental projects worth mentioning are– investigation of shape coexistence in nuclei (a nuclear microscope), Giant Dipole Resonance studies, fusion barrier distributions, high-spin states structure involving the confirmation of chirality, light nuclei reaction processes and the mechanisms of “hot” nuclei decay. Also the availability of beam time for application projects resulted, among others, in the construction of charged particle scintillation detector, used with EUROBALL.

HIL is an interdisciplinary user-facility, not restricting itself to nuclear physics only. Solid state, biological and application studies play an important role, so a significant amount of the beam time is distributed for these purposes. Medical applications of nuclear physics are of special importance. The Radiopharmaceuticals Research and Productions Centre will soon be operational in HIL building. In July 2011 this unit was equipped with a high-current cyclotron able to accelerate protons and deuterons to 16 and 8 MeV, respectively. The centre will produce radiopharmaceuticals for Positron Emission Tomography (PET) to be used in Warsaw hospitals. Research on new types of radiopharmaceuticals is also planned. Inauguration of the centre will be accompanied by the international conference "Positron Emission Tomography in Research and Diagnostics", co-organised by HIL in May 2012.

A research project related to possible use of alpha-particle emitters in cancer radiotherapy is currently on-going at HIL in collaboration with the University of Silesia, Institute of Nuclear Physics in Kraków and Institute of Nuclear Chemistry and Technology in Warsaw. The collaboration has recently demonstrated the possibility of producing 211At in the 209Bi(alpha,2n) reaction using a beam of alpha particles delivered by the Warsaw Cyclotron. HIL is currently the only laboratory in Poland able to produce this isotope.

HIL collaborates with numerous Polish and foreign universities and research institutes. In 2010, HIL together with the Institute of Nuclear Physics, Polish Academy of Sciences in Kraków created the consortium "National Cyclotron Laboratory". Its mission is to provide infrastructure for basic research in the domain of nuclear physics, as well as for a broad program of applications. Integration with large pan-European research facilities is of special importance. According to the newest document of NuPECC (Nuclear Physics European Collaboration Committee) „Perspectives of Nuclear Physics in Europe”, regional experimental facilities such as HIL play an important role in the landscape of European nuclear physics by means of their research programs, development of new methods and technologies, as well as education of the next generation of researchers - future users of pan-European research infrastructures.

HIL equipment is also used for teaching and training purposes. Polish Workshop on Acceleration and Applications of Heavy Ions is organised every year since 2005 at HIL and attracts students from all over Poland. Participants work in small groups to prepare and perform nuclear physics measurements using dedicated apparatus installed at HIL. For this purpose, a week of accelerator beam time is allocated allocated. Experimental tasks provide students a hands-on experience with modern scientific equipment (detectors and related electronics, vacuum systems) and offer a possibility to get acquainted with good practice rules of laboratory work (e.g. sources and target handling). First international edition of this workshop, attended by 19 students from 3 countries, took place in March 2011 and was co-organised by the University of Warsaw, University of Sofia (Bulgaria) and University of Huelva (Spain). More foreign universities express their interest in joining in the project.

The Laboratory has an infrastucture allowing to organise large conferences. Two big international meetings - “Nuclear Physics Close to the Barrier”, 1998 and XXIII European Cyclotron Progress Meeting, as well as a number of workshops, were organised in HIL. Also, for the convenience of outside users 10 guest rooms are available in the cyclotron building.

Research done with the cyclotron beams resulted in a significant number of publications in ISI-listed journals, PhD, MSc and BSc theses. The details can be found in HIL Annual Reports. An outlook of vivid didactic activities connected to the heavy-ion research can also be found there.

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