Cesium Pencils – Bhabha Atomic Research Centre’s invention

Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, mumbai

Here I am with my new blog post, the idea of this article or should I say the overall content of this post got generated recently during my journey to Bangalore.

So, I was sitting on my berth (side lower) in the AC coach of Udyan express looking outside when my attention towards the wind mills spinning far away got distracted because of the noise made by the person sleeping in the next berth. He woke up and yawned.

I diverted myself again towards the wind mills, had I not done so I would have missed the window of opportunity provided by the train while passing along the sight. However, in a couple of minutes I heard some conversation being arose by the person who got up and another person who kind of joined him from the upper berth.

The person told that he was working for the central government and was from BARC (Mumbai). I couldn’t decode the abbreviation right away and hence I thought of sinking myself in the book which I was reading when that awesome view of wind mills captured my attention.

However, by now the term ‘BARC’ arose curiosity in my mind, as I thought that I knew the word of which it is an abbreviation of but couldn’t remember at the time.

I tried googling it too but there was no reception at the moment. I hoped that his conversation with the other person ended so that I could ask him more on the subject.

God listened to me, the person from the upper berth vanished for a while, maybe he went to bathroom or so, but that did give me the time to strike a conversation with the BARC person.


“Bhabha Atomic Research Centre”, said the person. And I couldn’t help myself sinking face in my hands out of shame because I couldn’t remind myself of it.

Lets see what BARC actually is-

Bhabha Atomic Research Centre was founded by Dr Homi Jehangir Bhabha in the year 1954. Headquartered in Trombay, Mumbai, it is a nuclear science research Centre pioneering in the research and application of nuclear energy for electricity generation and power production.

It was founded as Atomic Energy Establishment in Trombay first out of the vision of the great Homi J Bhabha of using nuclear energy for power build up such that India will have its self-sustainable source of energy, but later after the demise of Dr Bhabha in a plane crash in Swiss Alps it was renamed to BARC.

I was glad to know that I was sitting with a scientist, who, as per him was in quality assurance and was on a trip to Bangalore related to his job.

Carrying our conversation further, he told me about one interesting invention by BARC, hearing about which I got amazed and asked him instantly why is it not in News?

He didn’t have an answer to my question, and I didn’t want to drive the conversation there anyways, hence, without waiting any further I took the liberty of asking him about this invention.

He gracefully told me all about it. In the end, I asked his permission to publish this information on the blog of bx-zone.com to which he agreed because already the information is public so here, I am writing this article on one of the new things I got to know about and it is Cesium Pencil

Before I get into telling you about Cesium pencils, you must know Cesium is an element from the periodic table with Atomic number 55 and the symbol as Cs.

It is a silver colored alkali metal which stays in liquid form at the room temperature.

If you’re a Chemistry student then you can of course skip the next section but if you’re not then here are some definitions which I would recommend you to be familiar with, before reading about Cesium pencils.

Nuclear Fission

Nuclear fission is a process in the area of Physics in which the nucleus of an atom splits into two or more nuclei. Basically, it is a radioactive process in order to produce more energy by breaking an atom.


Variation of a chemical element which has the same number of protons but different number of neutrons and so a different atomic mass, we can say that a more unstable form of an element or a radioactive form of an element.

Radioactive Substance

Radioactive substance are those, the atoms of which decay naturally. The energy inside them gets released when the atoms intend to decay and this released energy can harm a human body or the surroundings. We call this energy as the radiation causing harm to the living beings coming in its way.

There are 3 types of radiation produced by the radioactive substance which are alpha particles, beta particles and gamma radiations. This article doesn’t bring the explanation of these radiations in its purview.

Cesium Pencils

So, the discussion of Cesium pencils started during our conversation when the BARC engineer (my fellow passenger) told me that these cesium pencils have been used in the treatment of eye cancer around the world and BARC produced it first in the year 2017.

He told me that the Waste Management division of BARC has achieved this breakthrough by extracting the Cesium -135(radio isotope) of cesium from the radioactive waste produced from the nuclear reactor during the process of nuclear fission.

Ninety percent of this radioactive waste produced during nuclear fission consists of Cesium and Strontium radio-isotopes, the recovery of which has been possible through the use of Calyx crown ether chemical. As an Indian, your heart will swell pride when you’ll know that this chemical has been developed by BARC only.

This extracted Cesium is put in a borosilicate glass matrix, which in turn is poured in Stainless steel pencils which are known as Cesium Pencils used in health benefits.

The person told me that these Cesium pencils go through stringent quality assurance checks and are then deployed in Production. The Quality assurance guys do really have a complex and important role to play during the production of these pencils. Around 102 such pencils have been produced till date which are being used in the treatment of patients suffering from low immunity patients and patients suffering from eye-cancer.

Really, it was a pleasure to know about this achievement of BARC, I promised the person that I will definitely publish about it in the blog of bx-zone.com.

With India being the pioneer in the production of Cesium pencils every Indian or even a cosmopolitan will feel proud and I really feel honored writing about it.

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