Indian leap in nuclear research, seventh country in the world to make cyclotron
By Shivaji Sarkar from Kolkata for INEP Brussels
As US President George Bush offers India atomic energy cooperation, India is joining the rare nuclear club having reached the advanced stage of constructing a superconducting cyclotron.
India will be the first developing country outside the Western world to achieve this breakthrough. It is a complex nuclear technology and Indian scientists at Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre (VECC) have achieved the feat on their own fully indigenously. The cyclotron to be operational in less than two years has been named K 500. It will be three times more powerful than the existing system functional for the last over two decades, says Centre'sDirector Bikash Sinha.
The US has three cyclotrons; Canada, Italy and Netherlands have one each. In most cases these countries had the advantage of access to technology from the US.
In fact, the US has been considering having a closer nuclear tie-up with India for some time. It has realised that India has the capability to develop the technology on its own with its superb manpower despite the technology transfer ban imposed over 30 years back soon after the first nuclear test in 1974.
In Europe, France too has been interested in investing in nuclear energy projects in India. Russia is setting up one of the biggest nuclear plants in Kodamkonam in Tamil Nadu in south India.
?The cyclotron K 500 will be fully indigenous. It will be used for carrying out highly advanced research experiments in nuclear science?, Sinha says.
The largest superconducting magnet in India was energised to produce a very high magnetic field. The energising coils are kept at a temperature of minus 269 celsius by immersing it in 300 litres of liquid helium. The results were to the satisfaction of the scientists at VECC, Sinha says
The superconducting cell, the key component, has been fabricated at VECC itself. ?It is an important technological achievement in the field of cryogenics and superconducting magnets and has application in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for energy storage devices, rapid transport magnetic levitation and medical diagnostics.?
Sinha says the facility would be made available to the international scientific community.