Medical physics | 2021
Self-Powered Multilayer Radioisotope Identification Device.
PURPOSE\nThis is a computational study to develop a rugged self-powered Radioisotope Identification Device (RIID). The principle of operation relies on the High Energy Current (HEC) concept1 with measurement of fast electron currents between low-Z and high-Z thin-film electrodes separated by nanoporous aerogel films in a multilayer detector structure whose prototypes were previously investigated2, 3 . Here, we present an optimal detector design that accounts for a wide energy range (keV-MeV) of x-ray emitting radioisotopes that are of interest to national security and radiation therapy.\n\n\nMATERIALS\nWe studied numerous multilayer detector geometries with N=1..24 basic detector elements composed of 3-electrodes: N x (Al-aerogel-Ta-aerogel-Al). The thicknesses of electrodes and their total number were varied depending on the incident x-ray spectra and its ability to penetrate and interact with the different layers, producing fast electrons. We used radiation transport simulations to find a balanced geometry that accounts for all energies from 10keV to 6MeV in a single design with relatively few detector elements (N=24). In the balanced design, the electrodes have increasing thickness as a function of depth in the detector, ranging from 0.5 μm-Ta and 10 μm-Al at the entrance to 10 mm-Ta and 2.5 mm-Al at the exit. Aerogel thickness was fixed at 50 μm. Electron currents forming RIID signals were acquired from all Ta electrodes. A model function M(x,Ei ) representing the detector yield as a function of the cumulative Ta thickness (x) for 70 mono-energetic incident beams (E) was derived. We also investigated the detector response to selected radioactive isotopes (Pd-103, I-125, Pu-239, U-235, Ir-192, Cs-137, Co-60). Additional studies were performed with Bremsstrahlung spectra produced by electron beams in kVp-tubes and in MV Linacs used in radiology and radiation therapy departments. We investigated different algorithms for radioisotope identification that would work for unknown unshielded as well as shielded sources.\n\n\nRESULTS\nCharacteristic features of response functions for monoenergetic beams and radioisotopes were determined and used to develop two inverse algorithms of radioisotope identification. Using these algorithms, we were able to identify the unshielded and shielded sources, quantify the minimum, mean and maximum effective energies of the shielded spectra, and estimate the amount of Compton background in the spectrum.\n\n\nCONCLUSIONS\nA multilayer sensor based on fast electron current was optimized and studied in its abilities as RIID. A balanced design permits the identification of radioisotopes with of a wide range of keV-MeV energies. The device is low-cost, rugged, self-powered and can withstand very high dose rates, allowing deployment in difficult conditions, including radiation incidents. The algorithm we developed for radioisotope identification and spectral unfolding is robust and it is an important component in practical applications.