Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung

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The GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research GmbH (former Name: Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung) in the Wixhausen suburb of Darmstadt, Germany is a federally and state co-funded heavy ion research center. The current director of GSI is Horst Stöcker who succeeded Walter F. Henning in August 2007.

The laboratory performs basic and applied research in physics and related natural science disciplines. Main fields of study include plasma physics, atomic physics, nuclear structure and reactions research, biophysics and medical research. The lab is a member of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres.


Primary research

The chief tool is the heavy ion accelerator facility consisting of UNILAC, the Universal Linear Accelerator (energy of 2 - 11.4 MeV per nucleon), SIS 18, the heavy-ion synchrotron (1 - 2 GeV/u) and ESR, the experimental storage ring (0.5 - 1 GeV/u) and FRS. The UNILAC was commissioned in 1975, the SIS 18 and the ESR were added in 1990 boosting the ion acceleration from 10% of light speed to 90%.[citation needed]

Elements discovered at GSI: Meitnerium (1982), Hassium (1984), Darmstadtium (1994), Roentgenium (1994), Bohrium (1996), Copernicium (1996).[1]

Technological developments

Another important technology developed at the GSI is the use of heavy ion beams for cancer treatment (from 1997). Instead of using X-ray radiation, carbon ions are used to irradiate the patient. The technique allows tumors which are close to vital organs to be treated, which is not possible with X-rays. This is due to the fact that the Bragg peak of carbon ions is much sharper than the peak of X-ray photons. A facility based on this technology, called Heidelberger Ionenstrahl-Therapiezentrum (HIT), built at the University of Heidelberg Medical Center began treating patients in November 2009 [2].

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