At-211 Production

The At-211 production team led by Dr. Sherry Yennello is working on perfecting a new method for rapid recovery of anti-cancer agent At-211. The separation, purification, and recovery of At-211 via extraction chromatography with ketones has resulted in a rapid, high-yield process, which can improve the availability of this isotope for cancer treatment.

Read more about the production of At-211 here.

Production Team

Top Row: Christine Lawrence, Gabriel Tabacaru, Sherry Yennello

Bottom Row: Justin Tobar, Laura McCann, Lauren McIntosh

Operations: Dan Menchaca, Bryan Roeder

Target Making:

Astatine-211 is primarily produced via the 209Bi(α,2n)211At reaction, and Laura McCann is the graduate student who works on making the bismuth targets needed for the reaction.

The bismuth target poses one of the greatest challenges for astatine production on account of the metal’s low melting point. Due to this, the target may melt during irradiation. In order to reduce the possibility of a target melting, Laura works on producing optimal targets with high integrity (no air bubbles or holes) and no impurities with low melting points.

To make the targets small pellets of bismuth are melted on to a thin aluminum target frame set on a hot plate. Once the bismuth has melted it is then spread around evenly with a ceramic spatula. The spatula is also used to remove the bismuth oxide crystalline layer that forms. After its removal an ultra sonic soldering iron is used to increase the surface interaction and conductivity between the bismuth and aluminum. This results in the production of thinner targets with a stronger adhesion, which show promise for maximum astatine production and decreased melting rates.


Tereshatov E. E. et al. Separation, speciation, and mechanism of astatine and bismuth extraction from nitric acid into 1-octanol and methyl anthranilate, Sep. Purif. Technol. 282, 120088 (2022). [DOI: 10.1016/j.seppur.2021.120088]

Burns, J. D. et al. Astatine partitioning between nitric acid and conventional solvents: indication of covalency in ketone complexation of AtO +. Chem. Commun. 56, 9004–9007 (2020). [DOI: 10.1039/D0CC03804K]

Burns, J. D. et al. Rapid recovery of At-211 by extraction chromatography. Sep. Purif. Technol. 256, 117794 (2021). [DOI: 10.1016/j.seppur.2020.117794]