Prototypes of self-powered radiation detectors employing intrinsic high-energy current

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Radiology



Document Type



Medical Biophysics | Radiology


PURPOSE: The authors experimentally investigate the effect of direct energy conversion of x-rays via selfpowered Auger- and photocurrent, potentially suitable to practical radiation detection and dosimetry in medical applications. Experimental results are compared to computational predictions. The detector the authors consider is a thin-film multilayer device, composed of alternating disparate electrically conductive and insulating layers. This paper focuses on the experiments while a companion paper introduces the fundamental concepts of high-energy current (HEC) detectors.

METHODS: The energy of ionizing radiation is directly converted to detector signal via electric current induced by high-energy secondary electrons generated in the detector material by the incident primary radiation. The HEC electrons also ionize the dielectric and the resultant charge carriers are selfcollected due to the contact potential of the disparate electrodes. Thus, an electric current is induced in the conductors in two different ways without the need for externally applied bias voltage or amplification. Thus, generated signal in turn is digitized by a data acquisition system. To determine the fundamental properties of the HEC detector and to demonstrate its feasibility for medical applications, the authors used a planar geometry composed of multilayer microstructures. Various detectors with up to seven conducting layers with different combinations of materials (250 mum Al, 35 mum Cu, 100 mum Pb) and air gaps (100 mum) were exposed to nearly plane-parallel 60-120 kVp x-ray beams. For the experimental design and verification, the authors performed coupled electron-photon radiation transport computations. The detector signal was measured using a commercial data acquisition system with 24 bits dynamic range, 0.4 fC sensitivity, and 0.9 ms sampling time.

RESULTS: Measured signals for the prototype detector varied depending on the number of layers, material type, and incident photon energy, and it was in the range of 30-150 nA/cm(2) for unit air kerma (1 Gy), which is viable for practical applications. The experiments had an excellent agreement with the computations. Within the examined range of 60-120 kVp, the energy dependence of the HEC (normalized to the x-ray tube output) was relatively small.

CONCLUSIONS: Based on the experimental results for 100 ms sampling time, it would be possible to measure the time dependence of x-ray beams for x-ray tube current of 0.1 mA or higher. Significant advantages of the HEC device are that generation of its signal does not require external power supply, it can be made in any size and shape, including flexible curvilinear forms, and it is inexpensive. It remains to be determined, which of the potential applications in medical dosimetry (both in vivo and external), or radiation protection would benefit from such selfpowered detectors.

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Citation: Med Phys. 2016 Jan;43(1):16. doi: 10.1118/1.4935532. Link to article on publisher's site

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