Research & Faculty

TRIUMF : Canada's National Laboratory for Particle and Nuclear Physics

TRIUMF/ISAC is a world-class research facility producing proton, pion, muon and radioactive ion beams for research in sub-atomic and nuclear physics, in materials science and in nuclear and radiochemistry.


TRIUMF is a 500 MeV cyclotron that provides a 150 uA beam of protons, directed to a production target that, in turn, generates intense pion, muon and radioactive ion beams. The name is historic, standing for the original three BC Universities that initiated the project in the late 1960's, which today has evolved into a consortium of many Canadian universities as well as attracting users from around the world.

The first pion and muon beams (muons are the decay products of pions) were delivered to experimental target areas in 1975, and for the next 25 years these beams, along with the main proton beam, provided the raison d'etre of TRIUMF's research program in the regimes of nuclear interactions and `muon Spin Resonance (uSR)' [PDF article on uSR], wherein the muon is used as a sensitive probe of materials and molecular sciences. The uSR technique lies at the core of the research programs of Don Fleming and, partly, of Andrew MacFarlane.

In parallel, several smaller and stand-alone cyclotrons of about 30 MeV beam energy were commissioned and which have played pivotal roles to this day in the production of radioisotopes and in particular positron emitters (notably 18F) that lie at the heart of TRIUMF's 'Positron Emission Tomography' (PET) program, in conjunction with nuclear medicine programs at UBC Hospital. This important radiochemistry program constitutes the research efforts of Mike AdamChris Orvig and David Perrin at TRIUMF.

In the year 1999 a new facility called ISAC - the 'Isotope Separated Accelerator' was commissioned for the study of nuclear astrophysics, rare decay modes and materials science. A part (currently about 40 uA) of the 500 MeV proton beam impacts on a heavy metal target and produces a variety of radioactive ions which are further transported to different experimental areas for the study of nuclear astrophysics, rare decay modes and materials science (in 2006 ISAC was upgraded to ISAC-II in order to provide higher energy ion beams for unique studies in the realm of nuclear structure). The materials science program at ISAC utilizes a 8Li ion beam and RF resonance and is known as the 'beta-NMR Facility'. This is primarily the research interest of Andrew MacFarlane.

For more information, see TRIUMF.