Feasibility Study of a Proton Irradiation Facility for Radiobiological Measurements at an 18 MeV Cyclotron
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A feasibility study of an experimental setup for the irradiation of biological samples at the cyclotron facility installed at the National Centre of Accelerators (Seville, Spain) is presented. This cyclotron, which counts on an external beam line for interdisciplinary research purposes, produces an
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A feasibility study of an experimental setup for the irradiation of biological samples at the cyclotron facility installed at the National Centre of Accelerators (Seville, Spain) is presented. This cyclotron, which counts on an external beam line for interdisciplinary research purposes, produces an 18 MeV proton beam, which is suitable for the irradiation of mono-layer cultures for the measurement of proton cell damages and Relative Biological Effectiveness (RBE) at energies below the beam nominal value. Measurements of this kind are of interest for proton therapy, since the variation of proton RBE at the distal edge of the Bragg curve may have implications in clinical proton therapy treatments. In the following, the characteristics of the beam line and the solutions implemented for the irradiation of biological samples are described. When dealing with the irradiation of cell cultures, low beam intensities and broad homogeneous irradiation fields are required, in order to assure that all the cells receive the same dose with a suitable dose rate. At the cyclotron, these constraints have been achieved by completely defocusing the beam, intercepting the beam path with tungsten scattering foils and varying the exit-window-to-sample distance. The properties of the proton beam thus obtained have been analysed and compared with Monte Carlo simulations. The results of this comparison, as well as the experimental measurement of the lateral dose profiles expected at the position of samples are presented. Meaningful dose rates of about 2–3 Gy/min have been obtained. Homogeneous lateral dose profiles, with maximum deviations of 5%, have been measured at a distance of approximately 50 cm in air from the exit window, placing a tungsten scattering foil of 200 μm in the beam path.