The Institute of Modern Physics (IMP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences was founded in l957. As of 2013, the institute had 892 staff members including 403 researchers, as well as 284 master's and doctoral students.
IMP operates the Heavy Ion Research Facility in Lanzhou (HIRFL), which consists of the Sector Focusing Cyclotron, the Separated Sector Cyclotron, the Cooler Storage Ring (CSR), and a number of experimental terminals. After a half century of development, IMP has become the most important research center for heavy ion sciences in China. We have established active and fruitful collaboration with more than 40 institutions worldwide.
As a national laboratory, HIRFL is open to domestic and international users. HIRFL produces medium and high-energy ion beams from proton to uranium. In recent years, HIRFL has operated 7,000 hours each year and delivered 5,000 hours of beam time for experiments. To improve HIRFL’s beam intensity and operating efficiency, IMP has devoted much effort to accelerator physics and technology R&D.
Using HIRFL, we conduct fundamental research in nuclear and atomic physics. IMP’s main research focuses on nuclear reactions, nuclear spectroscopy, the properties of nuclear matter, the chemistry of super-heavy elements and synthesis of new super heavy isotopes, key reactions in stellar evolution, high energy density physics, and highly charged heavy ion interactions. After the CSR was put into operation in 2008, IMP set making precision mass measurements of short-lived nuclides as its highest priority research program at HIRFL. A batch of nuclear masses were measured with a precision of up to 10-7 using isochronous mass spectrometry, and the implications for nuclear structures and nucleosynthesis in the rapid proton capture process of X-ray bursts have been investigated. So far, this research has led to three main conclusions. 64Ge is certainly not a major waiting point in the rapid proton capture process in X-ray bursts. Aided by model calculations, no strong Ca–Sc cycle can be formed in X-ray bursts. Last but not least, a breakdown of the quadratic form of the mass equation for analogous states was found.
We have paid much attention to heavy ion applications. Cancer therapy has been developed at IMP since 2006, and so far 103 shallow-seated and 110 deep-seated tumor patients have been treated. In collaboration with local government agencies and hospitals，two dedicated heavy-ion treatment facilities are under construction in Lanzhou and Wuwei in Gansu Province.
Mutation of sweet sorghum using heavy ion beam irradiation technology has also proved to be very successful. An early maturity variety was isolated, and we expect large-scale planting in western China to benefit many people.
It is also worth noting that HIRFL provides an important platform for evaluating single particle effects for devices used in space, and contributes to space sciences in China. Another important application field is material irradiation, which may play a significant role in future nuclear energy development.
In 2010, IMP took charge of the Advanced Nuclear Fission Energy Program-ADS Transmutation System, a strategic priority research program of CAS. In collaboration with other institutes in China, the project was approved by the central government at the end of 2010. This long-term project aims to build a demonstration facility for the transmutation of nuclear waste produced in nuclear power plants. IMP established a department dedicated exclusively to the R&D of a high-intensity superconducting proton accelerator and spallation target system. Now the roadmap for the ADS project is fixed and the research program is on track.