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J. Radiat. Prot. Res > Volume 48(4); 2023 > Article
Nizam, Ahmed, and Ahmed: Monte Carlo Calculation for Production Cross-Sections of Projectile’s Isotopes from Therapeutic Carbon and Helium Ion Beams in Different Materials

Abstract

Background

Isotopes of the projectile may be produced along the beam path during the irradiation of a target by a heavy ion due to inelastic interactions with the media. This study analyzed the production cross-section of carbon (C) and Helium (He) projectile’s isotopes resulting from the interactions of these beams with different materials along the beam path.

Materials and Methods

In this study, we transport C and He ion beams through different materials. This transportation was made by the Monte Carlo simulation. Particle and Heavy Ion Transport code System (PHITS) has been used for this calculation.

Results and Discussion

It has been found that 10C, 11C, and 13C from the 12C ion beam and 3He from the 4He ion beam are significant projectile’s isotopes that have higher flux than other isotopes of these projectiles. The 4He ion beam has a higher projectile’s isotope production cross-section along the beam path, which adds more impurities to the beam than the 12C ion beam. These projectile’s isotopes from both the 12C and 4He ion beams have higher production cross-sections in hydrogenous materials like water or polyethylene.

Conclusion

It is important to distinguish these projectile’s isotopes from the primary beam particles to obtain a precise and accurate cross-section result by minimizing the error during measurement with a nuclear track detector. This study will show the trend of the production probability of projectile’s isotopes for these ion beams.

Introduction

Ion beam accelerators play a significant role in medical physics [1], radiation physics, accelerator physics, ion implantation, material science, space radiation [2], and cancer therapy [3]. Therefore, it is of paramount importance to understand the mechanism of the interaction between ions and matter to effectively use the ion beams from an accelerator. The total reaction cross-section is one of the most fundamental quantities for understanding the nucleus–nucleus interaction mechanism. However, the total reaction cross-section is difficult to measure experimentally due to various reaction channels. On the other hand, since most reactions undergo a proton change, the total charge changing cross-section (σTCC) is an alternative and effective method to understand the reaction cross-section [4]. σTCC measures the probability of changing the charge (proton) of a projectile. It is also important to understand the structure and stability of the nucleus [5] and particle spectrum in a cosmic ray [6]. Many experiments have measured σTCC in different interactions since 1970 [79]. However, neutron changing cross-sections (12C to 9C–15C isotopes) were excluded from this σTCC measurement.
To conduct this type of experiment, researchers use both active detectors, such as the Cherenkov detector [10], Si detector, different types of scintillators, position sensitive detectors [7, 8, 11], and time projection chambers [12] and passive detectors, essentially track detectors such as CR-39 [1318] and nuclear emulsion [19]. Track detectors have been used for ion interaction experiments since 1960s [2022]. Passive detectors such as CR-39 have certain advantages over active detectors in detecting fragments with a range in ‘μm’ scale, multiple fragments from a single interaction, etc. However, the CR-39 detector has a limitation of low mass resolution [23, 24]. As a result, these detectors cannot differentiate between projectiles and their respective isotopes, which is important for experiments such as σTCC measurement. The incapability of these detectors to distinguish projectiles and isotopes of the projectile is one of the main sources of error in the experiment. Therefore, it is important to determine the projectile isotopes that are produced before coming to the target because of the interacting materials in the beam line and those inside the target for beam purity.
We analyzed 12C and 4He as the main ion beam for cancer therapy in this study. Ion beam contamination due to projectile’s isotopes is one of the major and longstanding experimental issues that must be considered [25], which hinders the measurement. Kozma et al. [26] and Kaki [27] attempted to measure the production cross-section of these projectile’s isotopes for different interactions. This study estimated the production cross-sections of projectile’s isotopes for 12C and 4He ion beams in different media with the Monte Carlo calculation by Particle and Heavy Ion Transport code System (PHITS) [28]. Recently, the use of 4He ion has renewed interest for certain therapeutic conditions due to less lateral scattering than the proton and lower impact of the fragmentation tail than in 12C ion irradiation. A clinical trial of 4He ion at the Heidelberg Ion-Beam Therapy Center has just started [29]. So, the production cross-section of isotopes from the 4He ion beam has also been analyzed in this study.
There are very few experimental data on projectile’s isotope production cross-sections (σipc) measured for different interactions. Therefore, our calculated data and the analysis of the trend of projectile’s isotope production in different target materials in this study could be useful for researchers in this field.

Materials and Methods

In this study, JAERI Quantum Molecular Dynamics 2.0 (JQMD 2) [30] incorporated in PHITS version 3.22 was used to simulate the transport of the 12C ion beam, and Liège Intranuclear Cascade model (INCL4.6) [31] has been used for the transportation of 4He ion beams inside materials such as scatterer (Ta) with density of 16.6 g/cm3, beam monitors (Al) with density of 2.7 g/cm3, and range shifter (polymethyl methacrylate [PMMA] (C5O2H8)n) with density of 1.91 g/cm3 [32] along the beam path in accelerator facilities such as Heavy Ion Medical Accelerator in Chiba (HIMAC), Japan [33]. Other targets, Al, C with density of 2.26 g/cm3, CR-39 with density of 1.31 g/cm3, water (H2O) with density of 1.0 g/cm3, and polyethylene (CH2) with density of 0.89 g/cm3 were also investigated to understand the tendency of projectile’s σipc for both the 12C and 4He ion beams. The target thickness was considered 0.5 mm. The simulation was performed for 1 million particles in each energy for each interaction so that the statistical error of the calculated quantity remains less than 2%. The following Fig. 1A shows the simulation setup for 12C and PMMA interaction at 135 MeV/n with a target thickness of 0.5 mm, and the beam radius was 5 cm during the simulation. Due to the better visualization, the beam of a 2 cm radius has been visualized in this figure. Fig. 1B shows the travelling of the 12C ion beam through the PMMA.

1. Calculation of Projectile’s Isotope Production Cross-Section

The track detection mechanism of track detectors, such as CR-39 is based on the incident ion’s linear energy transfer (LET) inside this detector. The LET threshold and LET resolution of a CR-39 (TD-1 type) detector are approximately 5 keV/μm and 1 keV/μm, respectively. Fig. 2A shows the LET as a function of energy for 11C, 12C, and 13C in CR-39. It can be observed in the Fig. 2A that the difference in LET among these isotopes is insignificant. As shown in Fig. 2B, the average difference in LET between 12C and 11C (LETC–12LETC–11) and that between 12C and 13C (LETC–12LETC–13) is approximately 0.03 keV/μm. Hence, it is difficult to differentiate the projectile 12C ion from its isotopes by a CR-39 track detector. The same is valid for the 4He ion beam and its isotopes. However, those estimated values can be effective for the real experiment by simulating the production cross-section of these projectile isotopes.
The production of C and He isotopes from their projectiles can be assessed from the total neutron changing cross-section of the projectile. It can be defined as the probability of production of all the isotopes via the addition (removal) of one or more neutrons to (from) a projectile nucleus [29]. The equation for the projectile’s istotopes production cross-sections, σipc is as follows [34]:
(1)
σipc=-MTρNAxln(Nin-NncNin)
where, NA is the Avogadro number, Nin is the number of incoming particles, and Nnc is the number of interactions in which an isotope has been produced by the change of neutron(s). MT, ρ, and x are the molar mass, density, and thickness of the target, respectively. Thus, the production cross-section of a specific isotope (e.g., 11C) is
(2)
σC-11=-MTρNAxln(Nin-NC-11Nin)
where, NC–11 is the total number of interactions in which the mass of the projectile changed to that of 11C by the removal of neutron. Thus, the total isotope production cross-section (σTipc) is the sum of the production cross-sections of all types of isotopes. That is,
(3)
σTipc=n=915σC-n
where, n is the mass number, which defines the specific isotopes. We cannot distinguish the isotopes of a projectile by experimental measurement using a track detector because of the low mass resolution. Consequently, the total production cross-section of projectile isotopes is likely to be measured simultaneously during the measurement of the charge changing cross-section, and it is equivalent to the mass changing cross-section.
Thus, we calculated the production cross-sections of isotopes of projectiles using PHITS by identifying the event-by-event interactions of projectiles with the target while changing their neutron (Nnc).

Results and Discussion

1. Flux of Projectile’s Isotopes along Beam Path

The transport of 12C and 4He ion beams of 135, 290, and 400 MeV/n having a diameter of 5 cm through the materials (Ta, Al, and PMMA) of 0.5 mm thickness along the beam path has been simulated. We applied PHITS for this simulation to assess the beam contamination by the projectile’s isotopes produced in the beam path. These energies are in the therapeutic region provided by the HIMAC. Fig. 3A and 3B show the flux of isotopes as a function of energy in the PMMA for 12C ion beams of 135 and 400 MeV/n, respectively. The figures reveal that 9C, 13C, 14C, and 15C have significantly low energy with the least flux. Hence, these are too insignificant to be considered because it is highly challenging to reach the target. Only the 10C, 11C, and 13C isotopes contribute significantly through their higher flux and energy for the contamination of the beam and results of cross-section measurements. It can also be observed that the production of these C isotopes is higher at lower energy. In Fig. 3, we can see that the production of isotopes is higher at 135 MeV/n than 400 MeV/n in the same target, PMMA. This may substantially influence the beam purity before the target is reached. It is also found that 3He and 6He are the significant isotopes from the 4He ion beam that are produced along the beam path for the same interacting materials at the same energies, as shown in Fig. 3C and 3D.

2. Projectile’s Isotope Production Cross-Sections

1) Carbon projectile isotopes

Each interaction of the projectile from which the projectile’s isotopes (9C–15C) can be produced was identified separately using the [T-userdefined] tally of PHITS. Then, the production cross-section of specific projectile’s isotopes was calculated from the number of specific interactions using Equation (2). Table 1 shows the σipc for specific projectile’s isotopes (9C–15C) for different energies in the materials along the beam path of the accelerator system. It can be observed that 10C and 11C have the maximum production probabilities in each material. The value enclosed in parentheses shows the uncertainty calculated according to the error propagation.
The production probabilities of different isotopes in certain target materials, such as Al, C, CR-39, H2O, and CH2, were calculated in this study to understand the trend, and these are shown in Fig. 4. 10C, 11C, and 13C are the most producible isotopes in all the target materials, as observed from these figures and Table 1, which represent the isotopes of the projectile in the materials along the beam path. It is observed that 10C, 11C, and 13C have a significantly higher cross-section in PMMA, H2O, and CH2 than other targets. The production cross-section of 11C was significantly higher than that of 10C and 13C in all the targets.
The calculated production cross-sections of 10C and 11C were compared with the experimental results, as shown in Fig. 5. The experimental results were collected from the references [3539]. In Fig. 5, the circles and squares indicate the experimental production cross-sections of 10C and 11C, respectively, for 12C and C interaction. The blue and orange colored dashed lines indicate the production cross-sections calculated by PHITS for 10C and 11C, respectively, for the same interaction. The calculation process and equation can reproduce the trend of the experimental results within the acceptable range, as observed in Fig. 5.

2) Helium projectile isotopes

In this study, the production cross-section of the projectile’s isotopes for a 4He ion beam has also been analyzed for the aforementioned target materials as well as for the material along the beam path. During the interaction with the target materials, the produced projectile isotopes from the 4He ion beam are 3He and 6He. The following Table 2 shows the production cross-sections of these He isotopes during the interaction with material along the beam path at the nominal energies 135, 290, and 400 MeV/n through the materials Ta, Al, and PMMA.
Fig. 6A shows the production cross-sections of He isotope in other target materials. This figure shows the produced He isotopes during the interaction of 4He and C at 80 MeV/n. 3He is the most significant projectile isotope that is produced and can play an important role during the measurement of charge changing cross-section with track detectors. The production cross-section of 3He isotopes has been calculated and compared for different targets, as shown in Fig. 6B. It is found that for both H2O and CH2, 3He has the highest production cross-section.

Conclusion

Accelerator-based ion beam has an important role in many branches of physics, including heavy ion cancer therapy, the study of heavy ion interaction, etc. When the beam of a projectile is going through the material before reaching the target, the projectile’s isotopes could be produced, which may contaminate the beam due to the material along the beam path like Ta, Al, range shifter (PMMA), etc. These projectile’s isotopes are one of the main sources of error during the cross-section measurement by the nuclear track detector. There are very few experimental data for the production cross-section of the projectile’s isotope yet. Therefore, we tried to observe the trend of the production cross-section of projectile isotopes for the 12C and 4He ion beams in the materials (Ta, Al, and PMMA) along the beam path for three nominal beam energies, which are 135, 290, and 400 MeV/n, since these energies are in the therapeutic range provided by the HIMAC. The calculations were performed by the Monte Carlo calculation code, PHITS. It is found that 3He is the most producible projectile’s isotope from the 4He ion beam, whereas 10C, 11C, and 13C are the most producible projectile’s isotope from the 12C ion beam in these energies. Among the beam materials, Al, Ta, and PMMA, along the beam path, 3He have higher production cross-sections in Al and Ta, whereas 10C, 11C, and 13C have higher production cross-sections in PMMA.
Except for the materials along the beam path, other materials, C, H2O, CH2, and CR-39, were considered because of their tissue-like properties to observe the tendency of the projectile’s σipc. It is found that the projectile’s σipc is higher in hydrogenous materials like H2O and CH2. It can be concluded that the isotopes 10C, 11C, and 13C from the 12C ion beam and 3He from the 4He ion beam play an important role in hindering the experimental measurement of the total charge changing cross-section in the Al, C, CR-39, H2O, and CH2 targets. These isotopes were higher in flux at lower energies. Carbon-11 (11C) has a much higher production cross-section among the three C projectile isotopes in all the target materials mentioned above.
As determined in this study, the role of these projectile’s isotopes may explain why the experimental result is higher than the calculated result for the σTCC, particularly in the lower energy region. Thus, this issue should be addressed effectively to obtain a precise result with minimum uncertainties in an experiment involving an ion beam from an accelerator. The observations of this analysis can be used to minimize the error generated during experiments on heavy ion interactions with track detectors.

Notes

Conflict of Interest

No potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported.

Ethical Statement

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Author Contribution

Conceptualization: Rashed Nizam QM. Formal analysis: all authors. Writing - original draft: Ahmed A, Ahmed I. Writing - review and editing: Rashed Nizam QM. Approval of final manuscript: all authors.

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Fig. 1
(A) The simulation set up for the 12C and PMMA interaction at 135 MeV/n with the target thickness of 0.5 mm. For better visualization, the beam of a 2-cm radius has been grabbed in this figure, whereas in real situations, it was 5 cm in diameter. (B) The travelling of the 12C ion beam through the PMMA. PMMA, polymethyl methacrylate.
jrpr-2023-00262f1.jpg
Fig. 2
(A) A comparison of the linear energy transfer (LET [keV/μm]) of the three main isotopes of 12C projectiles in CR-39 as a function of energy (E [MeV/n]). We can observe that the LET value of each isotope at a specific energy is largely equal to that of 12C. (B) The distribution of the differences in LET between 12C and its isotopes 11C and 13C. The average difference in LET between 12C and 11C, (LETC–12LETC–11) and between 12C and 13C (LETC–12LETC–13) is approximately −0.03 keV/μm.
jrpr-2023-00262f2.jpg
Fig. 3
(A) The flux of isotopes as a function of energy in the PMMA along the beam path for the 12C ion beam of 135 MeV/n. (B) The same for the 12C ion beam of 400 MeV/n. (C, D) The same for 4He and PMMA interactions, from where it is seen that 3He and 6He are the significant isotopes for the 4He ion beam. PMMA, polymethyl methacrylate.
jrpr-2023-00262f3.jpg
Fig. 4
The production cross-sections of 10C, 11C, and 13C in different target materials are shown in (A, B, C), respectively. The descending order of production cross-section of 10C in different targets is H2O>CH2>C>Al>CR-39. The same for 11C is H2O>CH2>C>CR-39>Al. The same for 13C is H2O>Al>CR-39>C>CH2. Carbon-11 (11C) has a higher production cross-section than 10C in all materials.
jrpr-2023-00262f4.jpg
Fig. 5
A comparison between the calculated and experimental production cross-sections of 10C and 11C for the 12C and C interactions. The experimental results have been collected [3539]. The circles and squares indicate the production cross-sections of 10C and 11C, respectively. The blue and orange colored dashed lines denote the calculated production cross-sections for 10C and 11C, respectively. It is observed that the experimental results are in agreement with the calculated results. PHITS, Particle and Heavy Ion Transport code System.
jrpr-2023-00262f5.jpg
Fig. 6
(A) The flux of the He isotopes produced during the interaction of 4He and C at 80 MeV/n, where 3He is significant only. (B) The production cross-section of this 3He isotope in different target materials.
jrpr-2023-00262f6.jpg
Table 1
Production Cross-Section (mb) of C Isotopes (9C–15C) for Different Energies of 12C Ion Beam in Different Materials along the Beam Path
Materials Energy (MeV/n)

Ta Al PMMA



135 290 400 135 290 400 135 290 400
Production cross-section (mb)
σC–9 2.2 0.4 0.4 0.3 1.3 0.7 7.0 10.4 7.0
σC–10 2.0 2.0 3.0 8.0 5.0 9.0 89.0 75.0 77.0
σC–11 45.0 39.0 35.0 70.0 59.0 64.0 949.0 763.0 841.0
σC–13 - 0.4 - 31.2 16.9 25.6 59.2 64.4 48.7
σC–14 - - - 3.0 4.3 2.3 13.9 13.9 12.2
σC–15 - - - - - - - - -
σTipc 49.2 (1.1) 41.8 (1.2) 38.4 (1.1) 104.5 (3.1) 86.5 (2.2) 101.6 (3.1) 118.1 (13.6) 926.7 (12.6) 985.9 (12.1)

We can observe that the maximum production probabilities are for 10C and 11C in each material. The value in parentheses indicates the uncertainty.

PMMA, polymethyl methacrylate; σTipc, total isotope production cross-section.

Table 2
Production Cross-Section (mb) of He Projectile’s Isotopes from 4He Ion Beam in Different Materials along the Beam Path for Different Energies
Materials Energy (MeV/n)

Ta Al PMMA



135 290 400 135 290 400 135 290 400
Production cross-section (mb)
σHe–3 71.3 170.9 263.4 67.2 97.3 126.8 673.3 680.2 762.1
σHe–6 7.0 22.0 32.0 2.0 3.0 4.0 9.0 12.0 12.0
σTipc 78.3 (1.1) 192.9 (4.2) 295.4 (5.1) 69.2 (1.1) 100.3 (2.2) 130.8 (1.1) 682.3 (13.6) 692.2 (12.6) 774.1 (12.1)

The maximum production probability is for 3He in each material. The value in parentheses indicates the uncertainty.

PMMA, polymethyl methacrylate; σTipc, total projectile isotope production cross-section.

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