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Quick Questions and Answers

What is RARAF?

RARAF is a facility for radiobiological research with ionizing radiations such as protons, alpha particles, neutrons and soft X-rays. Its overall objective is to provide users with well-defined radiation beams, which can be used as a probe of biological structure or function.

Who uses RARAF?

Because it is the only such facility in the U.S., RARAF is extensively used by the radiation research community, both for basic scientific research (in which particulate radiations are used as highly-defined probes), and for pragmatic research, such as the fields of radon and space radiation effects.

Where can I read about the research performed at RARAF?

A list of papers that reference RARAF is available for those interested. Some more recent papers about the microbeam facility and research are available online in Adobe PDF format here.

What facilities are available at RARAF?

RARAF has a 5 MV Singletron Accelerator, which produces beams of positive light ions. These charged particles are used to irradiate biological materials directly, or to produce monoenergetic neutrons or x-rays that irradiate the biological material. RARAF also provides users with facilities and services such as dosimetry and microdosimetry, cell culture laboratories, x-ray machines, and advanced imaging techniques.

What's special about the Columbia microbeam?

The single-particle microbeam facility at RARAF is fully automated. It is possible to expose individual cells to an exact number of α-particles, including one, at a rate of more than one cell per second. This speed has allowed large experiments to be performed with mutation and oncogenic transformation as the biological endpoints, as well as all lethality and chromosomal aberration endpoints. This unique facility has made it possible to perform experiments that directly challenge some long-standing dogmas of radiation biology. For example, it has been possible to demonstrate clearly the existence of a "bystander effect" for both mutation and oncogenic transformation. The bystander effect is defined to be a biological effect in cells that are not themselves traversed by a charged particle but that are close neighbors of cells that are.

What is the long-term goal of RARAF?

The long-term goal of RARAF is to provide those state-of-the-art radiation sources, which can be used to address contemporary biological questions. In general, because of the precise dosimetry achievable with these radiation sources, radiations can act as unique probes into biological function.

How has RARAF been made more user-friendly?

From many years of experience using RARAF as a tool for visiting biologists, we are strongly aware of the need for support staff and facilities. RARAF has two dedicated biology labs, containing six cell handling benches, seven incubators, a Coulter counter, pH meters, balances, distilled water generator, sterilizers, water baths, and several microscopes. These labs are a few seconds walk from the irradiation areas. The facility also has a fully equipped workshop with four experienced machinists, who routinely design and build specialized instrumentation. Finally, to supplement biology experiments undertaken at this technologically complex facility, RARAF provides a staff experienced in providing consultation and technical assistance to facility users.

What is the schedule at RARAF this month?

The current monthly schedule is available in PDF.

How can I get an experiment request form?

Please contact Steve Marino, the manager of the facility, at (914) 591-9244, to discuss the proposed experiment, and then fill out the experiment request form. Once an experiment is approved, it will also be necessary to complete and return the experiment scheduling form.

tel: (914) 591-9244
fax: (914) 591-9405
Radiological Research Accelerator Facility Nevis Laboratories
P.O. Box 21, 136 S. Broadway, Irvington, N.Y. 10533