# Interactions of Particulate Radiation with Matter. Purpose. Importance of particulate interactions

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1 Interactions of Particulate Radiation with Matter George Starkschall, Ph.D. Department of Radiation Physics U.T. M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Purpose To describe the various mechanisms by which particulate radiation transfers energy to tissue Importance of particulate interactions Radiation therapy with particulate radiation Electrons, protons, heavy ions, neutrons, negative pions Photon interaction produces ion pair electron ejected from atom causes additional ionizations 1

2 Particle interactions Interaction produces ion pair particle loses energy in producing ion pair Overcome binding energy to eject electron Kinetic energy of ejected electron W value Average energy lost by charged particle in producing ion pair Function of nature of radiation and nature of absorbing medium Generally W = ev/ion pair in air W value Note importance of charged particle interaction: 1 MeV photon ejects single electron of energy around 0.5 MeV This electron can produce approximately 15,000 secondary electrons 2

3 Specific ionization (SI) Number of ion pairs produced per unit path length traversed by charged particle For alpha particles in air, SI in range 30,000 70,000 IP/cm Less for protons and deuterons Linear energy transfer (LET) Average energy loss per unit track length similar to stopping power LET = SI x W Linear energy transfer (LET) Example: Assuming that the specific ionization is 40,000 IP/cm, calculate the LET of alpha particles in air LET = SI W = 40,000 IP/cm 35 ev/ip = 1400 kev/cm 3

4 Range Range of charged particles determined by range = E/LET where E is the incident energy Range Example: Calculate the range in air for 4 MeV alpha particles with an average LET equal to the LET calculated in the previous example range = E/LET = 4 MeV 10 6 ev/mev 1400 kev 10 3 ev/kev = 2.9 cm air Ionization density, LET, range Alpha particles: Electrons: Dense ionization High LET Short range Sparse ionization Low LET Long range 4

5 Ionization density, LET, range Note: Charged particles have finite range Range also dependent on mass density For tissue with density around 1 g/cm 3, range of several-mev alpha particle is a few microns Ionization density, LET, range Assumption in range equation: LET constant along entire path SI increases as particle slows down Nearby atoms influenced for longer period of time Ionization density, LET, range This gives rise to enhanced energy deposition near end of track Bragg peak Application in radiation therapy: dose enhancement at location of Bragg peak 5

6 Types of particulate radiation Electrons Neutrons Heavy charged particles Differentiation due to differences in interactions Electron interactions Collisional interactions Electron-electron electron interactions Radiative interactions Electron-nucleus nucleus interactions Electron-electron scattering Incident electron excites or ionizes bound electron Probability of interaction increases with increasing Z of absorber and decreases with increasing energy of incident electrons 6

7 Electron-electron scattering Note that lower energy electrons have higher SI and LET than higher energy electrons Electron-nucleus scattering Electron gives off kinetic energy in form of Bremsstrahlung Probability of interaction increases as Z 2 of absorber Estimate ratio Radiation energy loss = Z E(MeV) Collisional energy loss 820 7

8 Neutron interactions Classification of neutron energies: Slow kev Intermediate kev Fast 20 kev 10 MeV High energy > 10 MeV Elastic scattering Target nucleus then dissipates energy through ionization Largest energy transfer occurs when mass of target = mass of neutron, i.e. for hydrogenous materials Inelastic scattering Target nucleus becomes excited and may eject energetic charged particle 8

9 Neutron capture e.g., 5 B 10 (n,α) 3 Li 7 Boron neutron capture therapy: Incorporate 10 B into brain Irradiate with slow neutrons Product nuclei densely ionizing Heavy charged particles Primary interaction is excitation and ionization of orbital electrons Bremsstrahlung production negligible Compare protons to electrons Proton scattering and straggling small so sharper fall-off in dose distribution 9

10 Heavy charged particles Negative heavy charged particles, e.g., negative pions, attracted to nucleus. Slowly moving negative pion collides with nucleus, breaking it apart, producing stars. Heavy charged particles Application in radiotherapy: Location of star is function of incident energy of pion, so choose incident energy so that star located at tumor. 10

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