Katharina Domnanich

Assistant Professor of Chemistry


Education and training

  • BSc in Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland, 2009
  • MSc in Chemistry, University of Vienna, Austria, 2012
  • PhD in Chemistry, University of Bern, Switzerland, 2017


At FRIB, a variety of by-product radionuclides will be created that are of immense value for numerous disciplines, viz. nuclear medicine, astrophysics, and Stockpile Stewardship Science. Collecting these exotic radionuclides from the huge volume of cooling water, their radiochemical purification, and final transfer into a chemical form that is required for the specific applications represents a challenging endeavor. Several preceding tests at the NSCL already demonstrated the feasibility of this novel approach, which became known as isotope harvesting.

To extend the spectrum of pure radioisotopes that are accessible via isotope harvesting, we envision the use of mass separation. With this technique, the introduced isotopic mixture will be separated according to the different mass-to-charge ratios, followed by the collection of the purified radioisotopes. Particular focus will be directed toward radioisotopes, which are of interest for scientific applications, like neutron cross-section studies. So far, the great challenge in the performance of these studies is the acquisition of the necessary microgram quantities of radioactive material. However, with the full-power FRIB beams, these amounts will become available. The purified, mass-separated samples will be used to manufacture radioisotopically pure targets. These targets will be utilized in neutron reaction studies and contribute to improving the availability and quality of nuclear data.


I grew up in Austria, and as a child I was fascinated by science and started an early education as a lab technician. Afterward, I studied chemistry and was intrigued by the field of radiochemistry. As a graduate student, I worked on the production and purification of Scandium radioisotopes, which are highly interesting for imaging and therapeutic applications in nuclear medicine. Four years ago I came to MSU and FRIB for my postgraduate studies where I focused on isotope harvesting and investigation of radiolysis phenomena. The manifold research opportunities and the pleasant environment here in Michigan convinced me to apply for a faculty position, which I started very recently in the fall of 2022.

How students can contribute as part of my research team

FRIB is a world-leading facility for research with the rarest isotopes and provides a unique setting to study and collaborate with experts in nuclear physics and chemistry. Students in my group will have the opportunity to get hands-on experience in radiochemistry and insight into nuclear physics technology at FRIB. This allows a broad definition of dissertation topics, and together with the students, we can decide on the direction of a project. Collaborations with other team members and with other research groups are always encouraged. The expectation for students in my group is that they are motivated and willing to acquire new skills and knowledge independently.

Scientific publications