Selective chelation of bismuth radionuclide ions from a mixture including actinium radionuclide ions involves exposing a ligand to an aqueous solution that includes bismuth radionuclide ions and actinium radionuclide ions under conditions whereby the bismuth radionuclide ions selectively chelate to the ligand for form cationic complexes of the bismuth radionuclide ions. and separating the cationic complexes of the bismuth radionuclide ions from the actinium radionuclide ions. The ligands have a structure based on a 12-membered cyclen ring and may include pendant functional groups that can be derivatized with biological targeting vectors for targeted alpha therapy.
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERAL RIGHTS
 This invention was made with government support under Contract No. DE-AC52-06NA25396 awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The government has certain rights in the invention.