Designing metal oxide-based stationary phases for the separation of 225Ac and 213Bi for biomedical applications


Meynen Vera, (Universiteit Antwerpen (UA)),

SCK•CEN Mentor

Heinitz Stephan,, +32 (0)14 33 82 16

Expert group


Short project description

Biomedical applications of radionuclides, such as radiotherapy and medical imaging, require pure fractions of a broad range of radionuclides. Typically, the separation of such radionuclides is based on an ion exchange or extraction mechanism.

213Bi is considered as a key isotope in nuclear medicine for targeted alpha therapy (TAT). This project entails the development of a new class of stationary phases to be used in 225Ac/213Bi radionuclide generators. The generator concept relies on the sorption of the mother isotope 225Ac onto the stationary phase. Due to radioactive decay, the daughter isotope 213Bi accumulates in the material and can be eluted at regular intervals. In this way, 213Bi can be made readily available for medical applications.

The conventional stationary phases are organic resins, functionalised or impregnated with a suitable ligand. Despite the wide variety of different resins which are commercially available, many suffer from several drawbacks, e.g. limited shelf-life, low sorption capacity and radiolysis. The currently applied, and most performant 225Ac/213Bi generator, concerns a styrene-divinylbenzene type of resin (AG-MP50). It was developed and patented by JRC Karlsruhe, which still applies and supplies the generator for research purposes. However, it also suffers from the drawbacks mentioned above, which is rather inherent to the organic nature of the material.

Alternatively, inorganic materials have the potential to overcome these drawbacks, by combining innovative shaping technologies and surface functionalisation approaches. This project focuses on the shaping and surface modification of metal oxide-based materials, more specifically titania, tailored for its use as a sorbent. The sorption performance will be optimised by the comparison of different architectures (microspheres, 3D-printed structures) and surface functionalisation approaches (e.g. sulphonic acid modifications) of the stationary phase. Also the radiation stability of the designed materials will be evaluated as it is a key point for their use in radionuclide generators which are exposed to high radiation doses.

This project will be performed in collaboration with VITO and UAntwerp, at which expertise in shaping and functionalization of the abovementioned materials is present.

The minimum diploma level of the candidate needs to be

Master of sciences in engineering , Master of sciences

The candidate needs to have a background in


Estimated duration

4 years
Before applying, please consult the guidelines for application for PhD.