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Research Reactor Applications

Research reactors continue to play an irreplaeable role in the development of science, technology and medicine. They offer a diverse range of applications, such as neutron beam research for material studies and non-destructive examination, neutron activation analysis to measure minute quantities of elements, radioisotope production for medical and industrial use, neutron irradiation for materials testing for fission and fusion reactors, neutron transmutation doping of silicon and gemstone coloration. Since many are based at universities and dedicated research institutions, research reactors have also established a considerable legacy in the education and training of science and engineering students, operators and maintenance staff of nuclear power plants and facilities, radiation protection personnel and regulatory personnel.


For nuclear research and technology development to continue to prosper, research reactors must be safely and reliably operated, efficiently utilised, refurbished when necessary, provided with adequate non-proliferating fuel cycle services and safely decommissioned at the end of life. Even though many research reactors are not used at their full capacity and many older ones will be shut down and subsequently decommissioned, research reactors will continue to play a very important role in the coming decades. In this respect, a number of Member States with little or no experience in this domain have recently built or are building new research reactors.


The IAEA supports the utilization of facilities consistent with their capabilities and objectives, international networks of research reactors in its Member States, sharing of research reactor resources to assist in the development of state of the art facilities, thus helping in socioeconomic development and making research reactors better utilized, modernized, more sustainable, safer and more secure. The assistance and support of the Agency is provided through a number of actions and activities such as:




Responsibility for research reactor utilization lies with the IAEA Physics Section.

Development of an Integrated Approach to Routine Automation of Neutron Activation Analysis tab
Advances in Neutron Activation Analysis of Large Objects with Emphasis on Archaeological Examples tab
IAEA Nuclear Energy Series
Research Reactors for the Development of Materials and Fuels for Innovative Nuclear Energy Systems tab
IAEA Conference Proceedings
Research Reactors: Safe Management and Effective Utilization tab
Proficiency Testing by Interlaboratory Comparison Performed in 2010–2015 for Neutron Activation Analysis and Other Analytical Techniques tab
IAEA Nuclear Energy Series
Strategic Planning for Research Reactors tab
IAEA Technical Report Series 482
History, Development and Future of TRIGA Research Reactors tab
IAEA Technical Report Series 480
Research Reactor Benchmarking Database: Facility Specification and Experimental Data tab
 Use of Neutron Beams for Materials Research Relevant to the Nuclear Energy Sector tab
IAEA Nuclear Energy Series
Applications of Research Reactors tab
Compendium of Neutron Beam Facilities for High Precision Nuclear Data Measurements tab
Applications of Research Reactors towards Research on Materials for Nuclear Fusion Technology tab
Commercial Products and Services of Research Reactors tab
Neutron Transmutation Doping of Silicon at Research Reactors tab
IAEA Technical Report Series 473
Nuclear Data for the Production of Therapeutic Radionuclides tab
Research Reactor Application for Materials under High Neutron Fluence tab