Proton tracking in a high-granularity Digital Tracking Calorimeter for proton CT purposes

H. E. S. Pettersen*, J. Alme, A. Biegun, A. van den Brink, M. Chaar, D. Fehlker, I. Meric, O. H. Odland, T. Peitzmann, E. Rocco, K. Ullaland, H. Wang, S. Yang, C. Zhang, D. Rohrich

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    18 Citations (Scopus)
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    Radiation therapy with protons as of today utilizes information from x-ray CT in order to estimate the proton stopping power of the traversed tissue in a patient. The conversion from x-ray attenuation to proton stopping power in tissue introduces range uncertainties of the order of 2-3% of the range, uncertainties that are contributing to an increase of the necessary planning margins added to the target volume in a patient. Imaging methods and modalities, such as Dual Energy CT and proton CT, have come into consideration in the pursuit of obtaining an as good as possible estimate of the proton stopping power. In this study, a Digital Tracking Calorimeter is benchmarked for proof-of-concept for proton CT purposes. The Digital Tracking Calorimeter was originally designed for the reconstruction of high-energy electromagnetic showers for the ALICE-FoCal project. The presented prototype forms the basis for a proton CT system using a single technology for tracking and calorimetry. This advantage simplifies the setup and reduces the cost of a proton CT system assembly, and it is a unique feature of the Digital Tracking Calorimeter concept. Data from the AGORFIRM beamline at KVI-CART in Groningen in the Netherlands and Monte Carlo simulation results are used to in order to develop a tracking algorithm for the estimation of the residual ranges of a high number of concurrent proton tracks. High energy protons traversing the detector leave a track through the sensor layers. These tracks are spread out through charge diffusion processes. A charge diffusion model is applied for acquisition of estimates of the deposited energy of the protons in each sensor layer by using the size of the charge diffused area. A model fit of the Bragg Curve is applied to each reconstructed track and through this, estimating the residual range of each proton. The range of the individual protons can at present be estimated with a resolution of 4%. The readout system for this prototype is able to handle an effective proton frequency of 1 MHz by using 500 concurrent proton tracks in each readout frame, which is at the high end range of present similar prototypes. A future further optimized prototype will enable a high-speed and more accurate determination of the ranges of individual protons in a therapeutic beam.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)51-61
    Number of pages11
    JournalNuclear instruments & methods in physics research section a-Accelerators spectrometers detectors and associated equipment
    Publication statusPublished - 11-Jul-2017


    • Proton therapy
    • Proton CT
    • Monte Carlo
    • Particle tracking
    • Calorimeter
    • Proton range estimation
    • BEAMS
    • GATE

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