Advisory Board

2001: Report of Review of ITN

Department of Chemistry
The Florida State University
Tallahassee, Florida 32306-4390
FAX: 850-644-281 -

April 13, 2001

Professor José Carvalho Soares
Instituto Tecnológico e Nuclear
Estrada Nacional 10

Dear Professor Soares,

On behalf of the International Advisory Board, I am pleased to submit the report of our review of ITN on March 8-9, 2001.

We appreciated all of the assistance provided to us by the Institute and your office before, during and after the meeting. We, also were most appreciative of the discussions that we held with the Directive Board, as well as other members of the staff and various sectors of the Institute. It is our hope that our report will be of value to you and the Institute to further improving tile quality and quantity of its service to Portugal.


Gregory R. Choppin
R.O. Lawton Distinguished Distinguished
Professor of Chemistry

International Advisory Board

Institute Tecnológico e Nuclear

March 8-9, 2001


The second meeting of the International Advisory Board (IAB) was held at ITN on March 8-9, 2001. The schedule of the meeting is given in Attachment I and the membership of the IAB is listed in Attachment II. The directorate and staff of ITN were most helpful in providing information and understanding which the Committee needed to evaluate the activities of the ITN for the report. The goal of the IAB is to assist the Director and scientific staff of ITN to continue to better serve Portugal as a major national scientific and technological institute.

The IAB is grateful to Professor Soares for the time he gave us and the open manner in which he responded to our many questions and comments. We also thank Dr. Maria Fernanda da Silva for her help before and during our visit as well as the other staff members who provided assistance or who met with us to discuss aspects of the Institute’s R & D. We hope that we are providing ITN with helpful and frank advice.

General Comments

The IAB notes that it has only been six months since its previous review of ITN. A number of suggestions and recommendations were made in that review report; however, given the relatively short time since the report was received by ITN, it could not be expected that many of those recommendations would have been sufficiently evaluated and action taken by the time of this review. We do recommend that the Directive Board (DB) of ITN review those recommendations of the previous report and consider whether they should be implemented or not. As a result of the relatively brief time between the last review and this one, this report is relatively short and has fewer new recommendations.

We would like to request that the DB respond in writing to this report within a reasonable time of receiving it. This response should indicate the DB’s reaction to the suggestions and recommendations of this report, listing the recommendations which have accepted and implemented. We would also urge the DB to discuss those recommendations which are not acceptable, briefly explaining why they were not so that IAB can obtain a better understanding of the problems in ITN which the DB sees as limiting its actions. Such responses will assist the IAB in better serving the Directive Board and the staff by providing useful advice on furthering the value of ITN to Portugal.

The IAB continues to believe that development of a Mission Statement for ITN is an important and fundamental prerequisite for an ordered and successful future for the Institute. The IAB spent some of its time at ITN drafting and sending a letter containing suggestions on the Mission Statement to the Minister of Science and Technology, with a copy to the Director, as had been promised in the first IAB report. The IAB hopes that this input will assist all parties to produce an appropriate, clear and dynamic Mission Statement on which to base an innovative and exciting future for ITN in the service of Portugal.

We note that there continue to be problems with internal communication among the sectors of ITN. To avoid this, it had been suggested in the previous report that the DB should be expanded so that all sectors of ITN have representation. This would provide the Director of ITN with a group with whom he could communicate frequently and ensure that his views would be related to the members of the different sectors. Also, by regular reports from the members of the sectors which would be represented on the DB, he could be certain that he would have a better and more through understanding of the interactions between the sectors and the differences which inevitably will arise due to different interests and personalities. This could help overcome some of the internal problems within ITN at present.

IAB cannot comment on the activity plan for 2001 as it was unavailable to us (as the plan was still in preparation by the ITN staff). The IAB looks forward to receiving the plan as soon as it is available. Perhaps this year IAB members can individually this year respond to any particular concerns about the plan. We urge the DB to develop a draft report on the organization of ITN with definitive statements on the defined responsibilities and structures. Such a report is an essential base for efficient evaluations in the future. It would also reflect the structure of the strategic plan for ITN by which its progress and activities should be judged.

The IAB congratulates ITN on the valuable activity demonstrated in its response to Portugal’s health concerns of the possible effects of the deployment of Portuguese military personnel in the Balkans where they have been exposed to depleted uranium (i.e. the isotope U-235 has been largely removed) used in conventional weapons. The concern generated by such exposure was very well addressed by DRPNS in the monitoring and measurement program and partially reflected the recommendations made in that regard in our previous report. This success has attracted national and international attention to ITN and Portugal and to the high quality and productivity of the work which can be expected from the Institute.

Although ITN is a relatively small institute, the IAB is aware of several examples of the deficiencies in the internal communication structure as discussed in connection with the expansion of the Directive Board. This lack of communication has led to various problems of an organizational nature and adversely affects the relationship between members of the Institute, sometimes leading to decreased motivation and lack of efficiency. A major example at present is the situation whereby two independent proposals were initiated for the acquisition of an ICP-MS instrument for ITN. One such proposal has been under development within the Chemistry sector for over a year, while the other one was initiated much more recently within the DRPNS sector. There are clear scientific reasons for the acquisition of such an instrument by both sectors. However, until the quantity of research needing such an instrument requires it, only one instrument can be justified for an institute as small an ITN. In the September, 2000 report, the IAB recommended the installation of such an instrument for the various activities in the Chemistry group in the ITN. However, the need for such a facility in connection with the depleted uranium work in DRPNS has led to a preference, apparently, being given to that sector for the installation of such an instrument.

The IAB recommends the following:

  • (a) an instrument of the multi-collector type, should be selected which allows the most accurate measurements of isotope ratios of the type desired by DRPNS
  • (b) the instrument should allow use for the type of ICP-MS measurements required by the Chemistry sector research;
  • (c) the instrument should be an ITN facility available equally to all groups as well as to outside users on a time-available basis;
  • (d) allotment of usage, oversight of maintenance and funding of the facility should be handled by an advisory group to the Director which include members of the different sectors that have an interest in the facility.

The IAB feels that proper handling and acquisition of the ICP-MS facility can set a most valuable example for the acquisition and utilization of sophisticated instruments by ITN. Therefore, we urge the DB to consider these recommendations most seriously as we feel that this is a substantive issue that can serve as a model for development and future directions in the operation of ITN for the benefit of Portugal.

The IAB evaluated the Annual Report 2000 of the Institute. The IAB is quite impressed by the quality of the Report in terms of such aspects as the homogeneity of style, the format and the degree of information provided. In contrast to previous reports, the 2000 Report has been endorsed by both the DB and the Coordination Committee of the Scientific Council, a fact greatly welcomed by the IAB. The science discussed in the Report is qualitatively and quantitatively very good; for a number of the research units in ITN, it was obvious that excellent research, of international quality, is being done. ITN can, indeed, be proud of this report.

Scientific Council

The IAB had an extensive and useful discussion with the Coordination Committee of the Scientific Council (CCSC). One of the topics discussed was the set of investment projects to be submitted to the Ministry of Science and Technology for consideration within the framework of the Ministry’s special program for the renovation and development of Government Research Centers. The IAB considers it essential that the CCSC discusses such projects and provides useful advice to the DB on the priorities and rankings of these projects. The CCSC should play the role of mediator between the different groups that submit related proposals, in order to develop a limited number of projects with maximum usefulness for ITN. The CCSC should advise the DB on the priority of the projects it recommends. In order for the CCSC to be able to play this role, the DB should have the CCSC review and provide advice prior to the proposals being submitted to the Ministry.

The IAB has some concern about the limited size of the CCSC. The IAB suggests that it be expanded to at least 10 members, to make sure that the CCSC has representation from all the important fields of research within ITN. Also, if a member consistently fails to attend a meeting, he/she should be replaced to ensure representation of that area of activity. The CCSC should play an effective role, encouraging and promoting the dialog between researchers, giving advice, establishing scientific priorities and contributing to the formulation of the scientific strategy of the Institute.


The Ion Beam Laboratory reports extensive activity in the 2000 Annual Report which is reflected in the number of international publications. A proposal has been developed for an upgrade of the Ion Beam Laboratory by the acquisition of a Tandem Van de Graaff accelerator which the IAB has and continues to support.


The reactor is operating in a reliable manner. It continues to play a valuable role as a facility accessible and used by different groups of the Institute. The scientists of the reactor are collaborating with the members of the Condensed Matter Group in connection with the installation of two diffractometers. We urge that the necessary safety studies progress rapidly to allow use of these instruments as quickly as possible.

Condensed Matter Physics

The IAB appreciates the positive movement in the establishment of the diffractomers for neutron scattering at the reactor. The instrument DIDE is almost ready for regular use in the determination of powder structures. The small angle scattering instrument EPA is still dependent on studies of the installation of a tangential neutron channel in the reactor. We urge the staff to do their best to make the spectrometer operational as soon as possible. Together with the Hotbird facility, and, eventually, the acquisition of a new X-ray diffractometer in the Chemistry Sector, these instruments can constitute an important group of facilities in ITN for the study of large scale structures of colloids, polymer, gels, metals, etc.


The DRPNS Department had been extremely busy in the last few months period in meeting the analytical demands of the Balkan depleted uranium measurements. Such high productivity reflects the dedication of the Department and is quite commendable. Progress is noted in movements towards meeting the recommendation of the previous report, i.e. towards increasing staffing and equipment resources and initiating cooperation with the Geological Survey on radiometric mapping and emergency response techniques. The important role of the Department in monitoring for depleted uranium in the Balkans and in advising the Minister in this matter highlights the urgency of the need to provide laboratories which can be accredited for work within Portugal and internationally.

Report on the Chemistry Sector

Based on the recommendations and observations made in the first IAB report, the Chemistry Sector in general and Inorganic/Organometallic Chemistry and Inorganic/Radiopharmaceutical Chemistry, in particular, are evaluated. The first report served as a valuable discussion base between the advisors and the group leaders on details of problems related to the proposed changes. Since the report was available only recently, significant progress or developments in respect to structure and major objectives in this sector could not reasonably be expected. The recommendations given in the first report to developing the Chemistry Sector towards a more focused and stronger center of competence within ITN are still valid, and supported by the IAB despite the statements by the CCSC in its report which disagreed with the IAB’s suggestions.

From discussions with the group leaders and from the consideration of the role of the Chemistry Sector within ITN as a whole, it is obvious that a scientific evaluation is not of highest priority need at this stage. The IAB agrees that the scientific expertise of the major researchers throughout the Chemistry Sector is high and can represent the base for important contributions from ITN to science in Portugal and internationally in the future. To move the sector towards objectives to be determined by the DB, it is strongly suggested, again, that the Chemistry Sector reorganize its internal research structure, its human resources and its objectives. In particular, it should be of highest priority that one person be chosen to be responsible to coordinate and focus the present and future research activities according to the missions defined by the DB. As recommended in the first report, to support the scientific staff in their projects, it is strongly recommended that the Institute helps to keep the available instrumentation operating. The major problems inside the Chemistry Sector arise from a lack of identification with its role inside ITN, from poor communication, lack of effective leadership due to structural disorganization rather than from problems of science and reflect the absence of strategic guide lines for the sector to follow. The sector has a number of excellent scientists and must play an important role in ITN’s future. This can be achieved by proper good will and sincere efforts from the sector’s staff and the DB.