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Advanced instrumentation to monitor radiation dose

Advances in instrumentation technology have enabled the use of proton/ion beams for cancer therapy and increased radiation dosimetry accuracy. A large EU training network conducted cutting-edge research to develop radiation detectors for a number of industrial and medical applications.

Industrial Technologies

Radiation dosimetry has wide-ranging applications including determining occupational exposure, assessing biomedical therapies, secondary (scatter-dependent) dose during radiation therapy, and even exposure of individuals on board commercial flights and of astronauts in space. A large international consortium has therefore trained 18 early-stage researchers (ESRs) on relevant topics thanks to the support of the EU project ARDENT (Advanced Radiation Dosimetry European Network Training initiative). The initiative funded 15 ESRs on 3-year contracts leading to a PhD, while the remainder received short-term contracts. The focus was on three main technologies, namely as gas detectors, solid-state detectors and track detectors (based on different speeds with which tracks of nuclear particles are etched relative to bulk materials). Researchers developed and tested instrumentation for measuring energy distributions and dosimetric quantities in complex radiation fields and in mono-energetic particle beams used in cancer therapy. All 18 ESRs from twelve countries were involved in an extensive research and training programme. Significantly, nearly one third of the team were women. The ARDENT project web site provides details on the project ESRs and their results. Success is reflected in the fact that more than 60 % of the ESRs have found jobs in either research institutions or industry. Collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA) enabled study of the TimePix chip for space applications. A hybrid semiconductor particle-tracking pixel detector, TimePix measures the direct energy of various types of radiation. Several projects focused around development and applications of Timepix. A novel detector, GEMPix has been built coupling two CERN technologies (GEM, Gas Electron Multiplier, and Timepix) with applications in medical dosimetry, microdosimetry and the measurement of low energy photon emitters for the characterisation of radioactive waste. ARDENT developed a 4D phantom that can mimic the movement of a human thorax during breathing. This can simulate the lungs, bones and tissue motion within a human torso as well as the 3D movement of a tumour inside the body with time. It enables insertion of passive and active detectors to precisely measure the delivered dose to a moving tumour in conventional radiation therapy and, for the future, in advanced hadrontherapy centres. ARDENT conducted cutting-edge research in radiation dosimetry with an emphasis on industrial applications via its four industrial partners. The project has trained the next generation of researchers in a key research area, fostered private sector development and strengthened international collaboration for a lasting legacy.

Keywords

Radiation, dosimetry, training network, early-stage researchers, ARDENT

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