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Welcome to Legnaro National Laboratories (LNL)

lnl flagsLNL is one of the four national labs of the Italian Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN). The mission is to perform basic research in nuclear physics and nuclear-astrophysics, together with applications of nuclear technologies.

Around 700 scientists from all over the world are involved in the ongoing research programs. Every day about 250 people work at LNL, half of them being INFN employees (physicists, engineers, technicians....) the remaining half coming from universities and research institutions in Italy and abroad. The laboratory budget is nearly 20 Million Euro per year, half for handling and research, half for personnel. Strength points are the development of particle accelerators and of nuclear radiation detectors, and the technology transfer.

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LNL have been recognized at European level as a Research Infrastructure with Transnational Access.


Six accelerators are currently at LNL: AN2000, CN, TANDEM, ALPI, PIAVE, SPES. ALPI and PIAVE have been designed, built and tested by LNL. These facilities deliver in total around 7000 hours of beam time per year.

See more info on accelerators section.
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Nuclear structure and nuclear reaction studies are the core activities of LNL. Research is performed with advanced instrumentation ranging from heavy ion spectrometers (PRISMA) to large charged particle, neutron and heavy ion detectors (GARFIELD). PISOLO is a time of flight spectrometer for transfer reactions and an electrostatic deflector for evaporation residues.

Nuclear spectroscopy is a tradition at LNL where an international level was recognized in the nineties with the gamma ray detector GASP, which, after 20 years of operation, has been dismantled in 2012. Over the years, LNL has hosted all the main European scientific efforts in this branch of research (EUROBALL, CLARA, AGATA). In particular the years 2011-2012 have seen the successful performance of the AGATA device, the first gamma ray detector with tracking capabilities. Since 2015, GALILEO, a 4π high-resolution gamma-array spectrometer build at LNL, is in operation with stable beams delivered by TANDEM-ALPI-PIAVE complex.

See other info on the nuclear physics section.

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SPES four leaf clover  SPES: the hope of the laboratory

The future of the laboratory is the SPES project. SPES is the acronym for “Selective Production of Exotic Species”. The project is devoted to basic research in nuclear physics as well as to interdisciplinary applications, ranging from the production of radionuclides of medical interest to the generation of neutrons for material studies, nuclear technologies and medicine.

SPES is the hope of the laboratory as its Latin name implies. In analogy with the four-leaved clover, symbol of SPES, we foresee four phases:

    • SPES-alpha: already approved and financed by INFN, includes the acquisition, installation and commissioning of a high performance cyclotron with high output current (~0.7 mA) and high energy (up to 70 MeV ), together with the related infrastructure for the cyclotron and experimental stations.

The cyclotron will be provided with two exit ports, a configuration well suited for the double mission of the lab (basic research and technological applications). One of the two beams will be dedicated to the ISOL facility; the second will be dedicated to applied physics. The cyclotron will produce radioactive neutron-rich ions by collision of protons onto a UCx target.

    • SPES-beta: neutron-rich species will be accelerated against suitable targets. In the collisions, new, extremely neutron-rich nuclei will be produced, which are similar to those generated in advanced stellar stages and are not present on Earth due to their short lifetime. The investigation on such systems is a new frontier of physics for extending our knowledge of nuclei at extreme conditions and to give basic information for the study of stellar evolution.

SPES-beta has been approved and partially funded by the Italian Government.

    • SPES-gamma concerns the production of radionuclides of medical interest by using the SPES-alpha cyclotron. The goal is the production of innovative radiopharmaceutical (e.g. those based on Sr-82/Rb-82 and Ga-68/Ge-68) as well as the production of conventional radionuclides with new accelerator-based approaches. In this respect the metastable state of Technetium-99 (Tc99-m) is of particular interest.

This phase of SPES has been funded by government as the LARAMED project.

    • SPES-delta: foresees the development of a high intensity linear accelerator based on radio-frequency quadrupole (RFQ) technology. Following such a route beam currents as high as 30 mA at a fixed 5 MeV energy may be achieved. This accelerator can yield an extremely intense neutron source which may have several applications as nuclear astrophysics, characterization of nuclear waste, or in the experimental tumours treatment by means of Boron Neutron Capture Therapy (BNCT).

For the development of this approach, an agreement has been signed by SOGIN, University of Pavia and INFN and the project MUNES (MUltidisciplinary NEutron Source) has been funded by the Italian Government.

For more info look at the SPES page.

Accelerators for non-residential projects

Radio Frequency Quadrupoles (RFQ) are a tradition at LNL, thus it is not a surprise that the Italian government has committed to INFN the contruction of a new RFQ prototype, which is the Italian contribution to the International Fusion Materials Irradiation Facility (IFMIF) at Rokkasho in Japan. IFMIF is devoted to the study of materials to be used in future nuclear fusion reactors. The core of the IFMIF is an RFQ accelerator which is being built by a collaborative effort of the LNL together with INFN Padua, Turin and Bologna departments, as well as with industrial partners.

LNL built the Drift Tube Linac (DTL) accelerator for the European Spallation Source (ESS) at Lund in Sweden.

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Small accelerators for interdisciplinary physics

The CN, operational since 1961, is devoted to investigations in radiobiology, neutron micro-dosimetry, radiation damage of materials and ion beam analysis.
The AN2000, operational since 1971, is equipped with micro-beam in vacuum, micro-pixe, micro-BICC and Micro-IBIL.Nuclear applications to cultural heritage, environment, materials are the core business.
CN and AN2000 are also useful for experiments with teachers and students in the context of Third Mission.
See more info on accelerators section.
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