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ASML’s medical-isotope brainchild doesn’t make it to the finish line

Paul van Gerven
Leestijd: 3 minuten

Efforts to industrialize ASML’s serendipitous discovery to bypass nuclear reactors in medical-isotope production – a project deemed a Dutch National Icon – have been shelved.

A method conceived by ASML to produce the medical isotope technetium-99m (Tc-99m) without nuclear reactors won’t be put into practice anytime soon. IRE, the Belgian supplier of radiopharmaceuticals that was hoping to industrialize the technology, has decided not to go through with it, a spokesperson confirmed to Bits&Chips. “Management decided to stop the project because it wasn’t sustainable in the long term.”

ASML stumbled upon the technique while evaluating free-electron lasers as EUV light sources. A bombardment of high-energy particles transformed ‘regular’ molybdenum (Mo-100) in molybdenum-99 (Mo-99), which radioactively decays to the Tc-99m routinely used in hospitals to diagnose heart diseases and cancer. The radioisotope is by far the most used in nuclear imaging.

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