Energy- and time-resolved detection of prompt gamma-rays for proton range verification

J.M. Verburg, K Riley, T Bortfeld, J. Seco

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Abstract

In this work, we present experimental results of a novel prompt gamma-ray detector for proton beam range verification. The detection system features an actively shielded cerium-doped lanthanum(III) bromide scintillator, coupled to a digital data acquisition system. The acquisition was synchronized to the cyclotron radio frequency to separate the prompt gamma-ray signals from the later-arriving neutron-induced background. We designed the detector to provide a high energy resolution and an effective reduction of background events, enabling discrete proton-induced prompt gamma lines to be resolved. Measuring discrete prompt gamma lines has several benefits for range verification. As the discrete energies correspond to specific nuclear transitions, the magnitudes of the different gamma lines have unique correlations with the proton energy and can be directly related to nuclear reaction cross sections. The quantification of discrete gamma lines also enables elemental analysis of tissue in the beam path, providing a better prediction of prompt gamma-ray yields. We present the results of experiments in which a water phantom was irradiated with proton pencil-beams in a clinical proton therapy gantry. A slit collimator was used to collimate the prompt gamma-rays, and measurements were performed at 27 positions along the path of proton beams with ranges of 9, 16 and 23 g cm(-2) in water. The magnitudes of discrete gamma lines at 4.44, 5.2 and 6.13 MeV were quantified. The prompt gamma lines were found to be clearly resolved in dimensions of energy and time, and had a reproducible correlation with the proton depth-dose curve. We conclude that the measurement of discrete prompt gamma-rays for in vivo range verification of clinical proton beams is feasible, and plan to further study methods and detector designs for clinical use.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L37-L49
JournalPhysics in Medicine and Biology
Volume58
Issue number20
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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