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Fluorine-18 is a fluorine
Fluorine is the chemical element with atomic number 9, represented by the symbol F. It is the lightest element of the halogen column of the periodic table and has a single stable isotope, fluorine-19. At standard pressure and temperature, fluorine is a pale yellow gas composed of diatomic...

 radioisotope which is an important source of positron
The positron or antielectron is the antiparticle or the antimatter counterpart of the electron. The positron has an electric charge of +1e, a spin of ½, and has the same mass as an electron...

s. It has a mass of 18.0009380(6) u and its half-life
Half-life, abbreviated t½, is the period of time it takes for the amount of a substance undergoing decay to decrease by half. The name was originally used to describe a characteristic of unstable atoms , but it may apply to any quantity which follows a set-rate decay.The original term, dating to...

 is 109.771(20) minutes.

Fluorine-18 is an important isotope in the radiopharmaceutical
Radiopharmacology is the study and preparation of radiopharmaceuticals, which are radioactive pharmaceuticals. Radiopharmaceuticals are used in the field of nuclear medicine as tracers in the diagnosis and treatment of many diseases. Many radiopharmaceuticals use technetium-99m which has many...

 industry, and is primarily synthesized into fluorodeoxyglucose
Fludeoxyglucose or fluorodeoxyglucose , commonly abbreviated 18F-FDG or FDG, is a radiopharmaceutical used in the medical imaging modality positron emission tomography...

 (FDG) for use in positron emission tomography
Positron emission tomography
Positron emission tomography is nuclear medicine imaging technique that produces a three-dimensional image or picture of functional processes in the body. The system detects pairs of gamma rays emitted indirectly by a positron-emitting radionuclide , which is introduced into the body on a...

 (PET scans). It is substituted for hydroxyl
A hydroxyl is a chemical group containing an oxygen atom covalently bonded with a hydrogen atom. In inorganic chemistry, the hydroxyl group is known as the hydroxide ion, and scientists and reference works generally use these different terms though they refer to the same chemical structure in...

 and used as a tracer in the scan. Its significance is due to both its short half-life and the emission of positrons when decaying. In the radiopharmaceutical industry, it is made using either a cyclotron
In technology, a cyclotron is a type of particle accelerator. In physics, the cyclotron frequency or gyrofrequency is the frequency of a charged particle moving perpendicularly to the direction of a uniform magnetic field, i.e. a magnetic field of constant magnitude and direction...

 or linear particle accelerator
Linear particle accelerator
A linear particle accelerator is a type of particle accelerator that greatly increases the velocity of charged subatomic particles or ions by subjecting the charged particles to a series of oscillating electric potentials along a linear beamline; this method of particle acceleration was invented...

 to bombard a target, usually of pure or enriched oxygen-18
Oxygen-18 is a natural, stable isotope of oxygen and one of the environmental isotopes.18O is an important precursor for the production of fluorodeoxyglucose used in positron emission tomography...

-water with high energy protons (typically ~18 MeV). Fluorine-18 is often substituted for hydroxyl due to similar steric and electrostatic properties. This may however be problematic in certain applications due to possible changes in molecule polarity
Chemical polarity
In chemistry, polarity refers to a separation of electric charge leading to a molecule or its chemical groups having an electric dipole or multipole moment. Polar molecules interact through dipole–dipole intermolecular forces and hydrogen bonds. Molecular polarity is dependent on the difference in...