Key 81: The Melbourne Cyclotron


In the post-war optimism regarding the possibilities of nuclear science for power production and medical research, the Physics Department drew on twenty years of atomic research to design and construct a high speed, variable energy nuclear accelerator or Cyclotron. In choosing this over other forms of accelerators the Melbourne physicists ‘had in mind the urgent need of a local source of radio-active isotopes’ for medical research. Such a focus also allowed for tapping into the more generous funding possibilities associated with medical science. Its design, by Drs David Caro and John Rouse, was a world-first but better-resourced Americans managed to actually build one sooner.

David Caro, seen here (right) at a London reunion of graduates
David Caro, seen here (right) at a London reunion of graduates, was Vice-Chancellor in 1982
[Source: University of Melbourne Archives Image Catalogue, UMA-I-1647]
East wall of Cyclotron, right
East wall of Cyclotron, right, looking south to west section of Physics
[Source: University of Melbourne Archives, T.C. Chambers Collection]
 Inside the Cyclotron
Inside the Cyclotron
[Source: N. Olver and G. Blainey, The University of Melbourne, MUP, 1956, p. 111]