We present a new external-beam radiation therapy system using very-high-energy (VHE) electron/photon beams generated by a centimeter-scale laser plasma accelerator built in a robotic system. Most types of external-beam radiation therapy are delivered using a machine called a medical linear accelerator driven by radio frequency (RF) power amplifiers, producing electron beams with an energy range of 6–20 MeV, in conjunction with modern radiation therapy technologies for effective shaping of three-dimensional dose distributions and spatially accurate dose delivery with imaging verification. However, the limited penetration depth and low quality of the transverse penumbra at such electron beams delivered from the present RF linear accelerators prevent the implementation of advanced modalities in current cancer treatments. These drawbacks can be overcome if the electron energy is increased to above 50 MeV. To overcome the disadvantages of the present RF-based medical accelerators, harnessing recent advancement of laser-driven plasma accelerators capable of producing 1-GeV electron beams in a 1-cm gas cell, we propose a new embodiment of the external-beam radiation therapy robotic system delivering very high-energy electron/photon beams with an energy of 50–250 MeV; it is more compact, less expensive, and has a simpler operation and higher performance in comparison with the current radiation therapy system.
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