In recent years, laser-based acceleration of charged particles has rapidly progressed and medical applications, e.g., in radiotherapy, might become feasible in the coming decade. Requirements are monoenergetic particle beams with long-term stable and reproducible properties as well as sufficient particle intensities and a controlled delivery of prescribed doses at the treatment site. Although conventional and laser-based particle accelerators will administer the same dose to the patient, their different time structures could result in different radiobiological properties. Therefore, the biological response to the ultrashort pulse durations and the resulting high peak dose rates of these particle beams have to be investigated. The technical prerequisites, i.e., a suitable cellirradiation setup and the precise dosimetric characterization of a laser-based particle accelerator, have to be realized in order to prepare systematic cellirradiation experiments.Methods:
The Jena titanium:sapphire laser system (JETI) was customized in preparation for cellirradiation experiments with laser-accelerated electrons. The delivered electron beam was optimized with regard to its spectrum, diameter, dose rate, and dose homogeneity. A custom-designed beam and dose monitoring system, consisting of a Roos ionization chamber, a Faraday cup, and EBT-1 dosimetry films, enables real-time monitoring of irradiation experiments and precise determination of the dose delivered to the cells. Finally, as proof-of-principle experiment cell samples were irradiated using this setup.Results:
Laser-accelerated electron beams, appropriate forin vitro radiobiological experiments, were generated with a laser shot frequency of 2.5 Hz and a pulse length of 80 fs. After laser acceleration in the helium gas jet, the electrons were filtered by a magnet, released from the vacuum target chamber, and propagated in air for a distance of 220 mm. Within this distance a lead collimator (aperture of 35 mm) was introduced, leading, along with the optimized setup, to a beam diameter of 35 mm, sufficient for the irradiation of common cell culture vessels. The corresponding maximum dose inhomogeneity over the beam spot was less than 10% for all irradiated samples. At cell position, the electrons posses a mean kinetic energy of 13.6 MeV, a bunch length of about 5 ps (FWHM), and a mean pulse dose of 1.6 mGy/bunch. Cross correlations show clear linear dependencies for the online recorded accumulated bunch charges, pulse doses, and pulse numbers on absolute doses determined with EBT-1 films. Hence, the established monitoring system is suitable for beam control and a dedicated dose delivery. Additionally, reasonable day-to-day stable and reproducible properties of the electron beam were achieved.Conclusions:
Basic technical prerequisites for future cellirradiation experiments with ultrashort pulsed laser-accelerated electrons were established at the JETI laser system. The implemented online control system is suitable to compensate beam intensity fluctuations and the achieved accuracy of dose delivery to the cells is sufficient for radiobiological cell experiments. Hence, systematicin vitrocellirradiation experiments can be performed, being the first step toward clinical application of laser-accelerated particles. Further steps, including the transfer of the established methods to experiments on higher biological systems or to other laser-based particle accelerators, will be prepared.
This work has been supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) under Contract No. 03ZIK445.
II. MATERIAL AND METHODS
II.A. The Jena titanium:sapphire laser system
II.B. Cellirradiation geometry
II.C. Beam monitoring and dosimetry system
II.D. Dose evaluation and error consideration
II.E. Proof-of-principle test irradiation
III.A. Optimized setup for radiobiological experiments
III.B. Characterization of the electron beam
III.C. Monitoring, stability, and reproducibility of irradiation experiments
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