Electrochemical separation of Ytterbium from Lutetium for the production of Lu-177 medical radioisotope.


Simple and fast process for separating an expensive Lu-177 from the target material 

Inventor: Artem Gelis

Gelis is a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and is the Director of the Radiochemistry Program at UNLV. His expertise includes radiochemical analytical methods (gamma-counting, LSC, alpha spectroscopy); electrochemistry, various spectroscopic techniques, kinetics and microfluidics. He has published more than 55 articles in peer reviewed journals in the field of radiochemistry.


A novel separation of ytterbium from lutetium utilizing an electrochemical reduction of Yb to divalent oxidation state on a carbon electrode, accompanied by precipitation of Yb(II) sulfate has been achieved. The novel process allows for removal of at least 90% Yb from the irradiated Yb target within a short electrolysis time. The ytterbium irradiation produces Lu-177- a sought-after medical isotope for cancer treatment. Both lanthanide elements possess very similar chemical properties in natural trivalent oxidation, and therefore are very difficult to separate via standard separation techniques. 


  • Provides fast separation of irradiated Yb from Lu-177 without using mercury
  • Can be used for separation and purification of the radionuclide, used for cancer treatment

Market opportunity 

According to IBISWorld, The semiconductor & circuit manufacturing market in the US is bringing in a revenue of $64.6B with a CAGR of 2.4% between 2023 and 2028. 

Intellectual property

  • Bench prototype
Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
John Minnick
Business Development Officer
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Artem Gelis
Allison Cicero
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