Simple heating of pyroelectric crystals has been used as the basis for compact sources of X rays, electrons, ions and neutrons. We report on the evaluation of the feasibility of using a portable pyroelectric electron accelerator to deliver a therapeutic dose to tissue. Such a device could be mass produced as a handheld, battery-powered instrument. Experiments were conducted with several crystal sizes in which the crystal was heated inside a vacuum chamber and the emitted electrons were allowed to penetrate a thin beryllium window into the surrounding air. A Faraday cup was used to count the number of electrons that exited the window. The energy of these electrons was determined by measuring the energy spectrum of the X rays that resulted from the electron interactions with the Faraday cup. Based on these measurements, the dose that this source could deliver to tissue was calculated using Monte Carlo calculations. It was found that 10(13) electrons with a peak energy of the order of 100 keV were emitted from the beryllium window and could deliver a dose of 1664 Gy to a 2-cm-diameter, 110-microm-deep region of tissue located 1.5 cm from the window with air between the window and the tissue. This dose level is high enough to consider this technology for medical applications in which shallow energy deposition is beneficial.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging