Design optimization of an electron-to-photon conversion target for ultra-high dose rate x-ray (FLASH) experiments at TRIUMF




Esplen, Nolan
Egoriti, Luca
Paley, Bill
Planche, Thomas
Hoehr, Cornelia
Gottberg, Alexander
Bazalova-Carter, Magdalena

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Physics in Medicine & Biology


Objective. To develop a bremsstrahlung target and megavoltage (MV) x-ray irradiation platform for ultrahigh dose-rate (UHDR) irradiation of small-animals on the Advanced Rare Isotope Laboratory (ARIEL) electron linac (e-linac) at TRIUMF. Approach. An electron-to-photon converter design for UHDR radiotherapy (RT) was centered around optimization of a tantalum–aluminum (Ta–Al) explosion-bonded target. Energy deposition within a homogeneous water-phantom and the target itself were evaluated using EGSnrc and FLUKA MC codes, respectively, for various target thicknesses (0.5–1.5 mm), beam energies (Ee− = 8, 10 MeV) and electron (Gaussian) beam sizes ($2\sigma $ = 2–10 mm). Depth dose-rates in a 3D-printed mouse phantom were also calculated to infer the compatibility of the 10 MV dose distributions for FLASH-RT in small-animal models. Coupled thermo-mechanical FEA simulations in ANSYS were subsequently used to inform the stress–strain conditions and fatigue life of the target assembly. Main results. Dose-rates of up to 128 Gy s−1 at the phantom surface, or 85 Gy s−1 at 1 cm depth, were obtained for a 1 × 1 cm2 field size, 1 mm thick Ta target and 7.5 cm source-to-surface distance using the FLASH-mode beam (Ee− = 10 MeV, 2 $\sigma $ = 5 mm, P = 1 kW); furthermore, removal of the collimation assembly and using a shorter (3.5 cm) SSD afforded dose-rates >600 Gy s−1, albeit at the expense of field conformality. Target temperatures were maintained below the tantalum, aluminum and cooling-water thresholds of 2000 °C, 300 °C and 100 °C, respectively, while the aluminum strain behavior remained everywhere elastic and helped ensure the converter survives its prescribed 5 yr operational lifetime. Significance. Effective design iteration, target cooling and failure mitigation have culminated in a robust target compatible with intensive transient (FLASH) and steady-state (diagnostic) applications. The ARIEL UHDR photon source will facilitate FLASH-RT experiments concerned with sub-second, pulsed or continuous beam irradiations at dose rates in excess of 40 Gy s−1.




Esplen, N., Egoriti, L., Paley, B., Planche, T., Hoehr, C., Gottberg, A., & Bazalova-Carter, M. (2022). Design optimization of an electron-to-photon conversion target for ultra-high dose rate x-ray (FLASH) experiments at TRIUMF. Physics in Medicine & Biology, 67(10), 105003.