While discovered less than 100 years ago, isotopes are now used in a wide variety of scientific applications that touch the lives of almost every citizen. These include:

There are 90 naturally occurring elements with roughly 250 stable isotopes, and over 3200 unstable or radioactive isotopes. Different isotopes of the same element often have completely different properties — making some of them invaluable for mankind, and others worthless [for the time being].

The production of separated isotopic samples — whereby the purity of one isotope is greatly enhanced over its natural abundance — can be very time consuming and expensive, and supplying the amounts needed for the growing demand in the above applications is a tremendous challenge.