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Part 2

Radiation Physics
IAEA Training Material on Radiation Protection in Nuclear Medicine

Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 2
Objective
To become familiar with the basic knowledge in
radiation physics, dosimetric quantities and units to
perform related calculations, different types of
radiation detectors and their characteristics, their
operating principles, and limitations.
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 3
Content
Atomic structure
Radioactive decay
Production of radionuclides
Interaction of ionizing radiation with matter
Radiation quantities and units
Radiation detectors
Note: Radiation units & quantities are in the process of
undergoing consensus through ICRU and IAEA. There may
be changes necessitating incorporation in this CD.

Part 2. Radiation Physics
Module 2.1. Atomic structure
IAEA Training Material on Radiation Protection in Nuclear Medicine

Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 5
THE ATOM
The nucleus structure
protons and neutrons = nucleons
Z protons with a positive electric charge
(1.6 10
-19
C)
neutrons with no charge (neutral)
number of nucleons = mass number A
The extranucleus structure
Z electrons (light particles with electric charge)
equal to proton charge but negative
Particle Symbol Mass Energy Charge
(kg) (MeV)
----------------------------------------------------------
Proton p 1.672*10
-27
938.2 +
Neutron n 1.675*10
-27
939.2 0
Electron e 0.911*10
-30
0.511 -
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Identification of an Isotope
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Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937)
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Electron Binding Energy
Electrons can have only discrete energy levels
To remove an electron from its shell
E > electron binding energy
Discrete shells around the nucleus : K, L, M,
K shell has maximum energy (i.e. stability)
Binding energy decreasing when Z increases
Maximum number of electrons in each shell : 2 in K,
8 in L shell,
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Ionization-Excitation
Energy
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characteristic
radiation
Auger-
electron
De-excitation
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The Nucleus
Energy Levels
The nucleons can occupy different energy levels and the nucleus can be present in a
ground state or in an excited state. An excited state can be reached by adding energy to
the nucleus. At deexcitation the nucleus will emit the excess of energy by particle
emission or by electromagnetic radiation. In this case the electromagnetic radiation is
called a gamma ray. The energy of the gamma ray will be the difference in energies
between the different energy levels in the nucleus.
Occupied levels
~8 MeV
0 MeV
ENERGY
Particle emission
Gamma ray
Deexcitation Excitation
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 12
Isomeric Transition
Normally the excited nucleus will undergo de-excitation within
picoseconds. In some cases, however, a mean residence time for
the excited level can be measured. The de-excitation of such a
level is then called isomeric transition (IT). This property of a
nucleus is noted in the label of a nuclide by adding the letter m in
the following way: technetium-99m, Tc-99m or
99m
Tc
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Energy
particles
photons
Nuclear Excitation
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alpha-particle
beta-particle
Gamma radiation
Nuclear De-excitation
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Internal Conversion
characteristic
radiation
conversion
electron
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 16
Gamma Ray Spectrum
(characteristic of the nucleus)
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 17


IR: infrared, UV: ultraviolet
Photons are part of the
electromagnetic spectrum
Part 2. Radiation Physics
Module 2.2. Radioactive decay
IAEA Training Material on Radiation Protection in Nuclear Medicine

Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 19
Stable Nuclides
long ranged
electrostatic
forces
short ranged
nuclear forces
p
p
n
Line of stability
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 20
Stable and Unstable Nuclides
Too many
neutrons
for stability
Too many
protons
for stability
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Radioactive Decay
Fission
The nucleus is divided into two parts, fission fragments. and
3-4 neutrons. Examples: Cf-252 (spontaneous), U-235 (induced)

o-decay
The nucleus emits an o-particle (He-4). Examples: Ra-226, Rn-222


|-decay
Too many neutrons results in |

-decay. n=>p
+
+e
-
+v. Example:H-3,
C-14, I-131.
Too many protons results in |
+
-decay
p
+
=>n+ e
+
+v
Examples: O-16, F-18
or electron capture (EC).
p
+
+ e
-
=>n+v
Examples: I-125, Tl-201
86
226
84
222
2
4
Ra Rn+ o
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 22
It is impossible to know at what time a certain radioactive nucleus
will decay. It is, however possible to determine the probability l
of decay in a certain time. In a sample of N nuclei the number of
decays per unit time is then:

2 ln
T
e N = N(t)
N
dt
dN
2 / 1
t -
0
=

Radioactive Decay
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The number of decaying nuclei per unit of time

1 Bq (becquerel)=1 per second
Activity
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1 Bq is a small quantity

3000 Bq in the body from natural
sources
20 000 000-1000 000 000 Bq in nuclear
medicine examinations

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Multiple & Prefixes (Activity)
Multiple Prefix Abbreviation
1 - Bq
1 000 000 Mega (M) MBq
1 000 000 000 Giga (G) GBq
1 000 000 000 000 Tera (T) TBq
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Henri Becquerel 1852-1908
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Maria Curie 1867-1934
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Parent-Daughter Decay
A C B

2
) e e (
A
B(t)
e A = A(t)
t t
1 2
2 0
t 1 -
0
2 1

Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 29


Parent-Daughter Decay
Secular equilibrium
T
B
<<T
A

Transient equilibrium
T
A
10 T
B
No equilibrium
T
A
1/10 T
B
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99
Mo-
99m
Tc
99
Mo
87.6%
99m
Tc
140 keV
T = 6.02 h
99
Tc

-
292 keV
T = 2*10
5
y
99
Ru stable
12.4%

-
442 keV
739 keV
T = 2.75 d
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 31
Irene Curie (1897-1956)
&
Frederic Joliot (1900-1958)
Part 2. Radiation Physics
Module 2.4. Interaction of Ionizing
Radiation with Matter
IAEA Training Material on Radiation Protection in Nuclear Medicine

Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 33
Ionizing Radiation
Charged particles
alpha-particles
beta-particles
protons

Uncharged particles
photons (gamma- and X rays)
neutrons

Each single particle can cause ionization,
directly or indirectly
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 34
Charged Particles Interaction
with Matter
heavy
light
Macroscopic Microscopic
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 35
Beta particles Alpha particles
Transmission
Charged Particles
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Mean Range of |-particles
0,01
0,1
1
10
0,16 1 5 10 50 100 500 1000 5000
Mean range (mg/cm2)
E
n
e
r
g
y

(
M
e
V
)
Radionuclide Max energy Range (cm) in
(keV) air water aluminium
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
H-3 18.6 4.6 0.0005 0.00022
C-14 156 22.4 0.029 0.011
P-32 1700 610 0.79 0.29
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Bremsstrahlung
Photon
Electron
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Bremsstrahlung Production
The higher the atomic number of the X-
ray target, the higher the yield
The higher the incident electron energy,
the higher the probability of X-ray
production
At any electron energy, the probability
of generating X-rays decreases with
increasing X-ray energy
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 39
X-ray Production
High energy electrons hit a (metallic)
target where part of their energy is
converted into radiation
target
electrons
X-rays
Low to
medium
energy
(10-400keV)
High
> 1MeV
energy
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X-Ray Tube for low and
medium X-ray production
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 41
Megavoltage X-ray Linac
target
electrons
X-rays
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Issues with X-ray Production
Angular distribution: high energy X-rays are
mainly forward directed, while low energy X-
rays are primarily emitted perpendicular to
the incident electron beam
Efficiency of production: In general, the
higher the energy, the more efficient is X-ray
production - this means that at low energies
most of the energy of the electron (>98%) is
converted into heat - target cooling is
essential
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 43
The Resulting X-Ray Spectrum
Unfiltered radiation (in vacuum)
20 40 60 80 100 120
INTENSITY
PHOTON ENERGY (keV)
Characteristic
X-rays
Bremsstrahlung
Spectrum after
filtration
Maximum electron energy
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 44
absorption
scattering
transmission
energy deposition
Photons Interaction with Matter
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 45
photon
characteristic
radiation
electron
Photoelectric Effect
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photon
electron
scattered
photon
Compton Process
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Pair Production
photon
positron
electron
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 48
Annihilation
|
+
+ e
-
(511 keV) (511 keV)
|
+ (1-3 mm)
Radionuclide
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 49
Photon Interaction
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
100
0,01 0,1 1 10 100

Photon energy (MeV)
Photoelectric
effect
Compton
process
Pair
production
The dominating photon absorption process in different materials of different atomic numbers
Photon energy (MeV)
Atomic number (Z)
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N N e
d
=

0

d: absorber thickness
: attenuation coefficient
HVL: half value layer TVL: tenth value layer
Transmission-Photons
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 51
HVL
Thickness of an absorber necessary to reduce the transmission of radiation to 50 percent
(HVL).

Radiation quality HVL (mm)
Concrete Lead

50 kV
100 kV
200 kV
500 kV
1 MV
2 MV
5 MV
10 MV
20 MV

4. 3
10. 6
25
36
44
64
96
119
137

0. 06
0. 27
0. 52
3. 6
7. 9
12. 5
16. 5
16. 6
16. 3

Part 2. Radiation Physics
Module 2.5. Radiation Quantities and
Units
IAEA Training Material on Radiation Protection in Nuclear Medicine

Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 53
High absorbed energy per unit mass
Many ionizations per unit mass
Increased risk of biological damage
Energy Absorption
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Absorbed Dose
Absorbed energy per mass unit

1 Gy (gray)=1 J/kg
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Harold Gray 1905-1965
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 56
1 Gy is a relatively large Quantity
Radiotherapy doses > 1Gy
Dose from nuclear medicine
examination typically 0.05-0.001Gy
Annual background radiation due to
natural radiation (terrestic, cosmic, due
to internal radioactivity, Radon,) about
0.002-0.004 Gy
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Fractions & Prefixes (Dose)
Fraction Prefix Abbreviation

1 - Sv
1/1000 milli (m) mSv
1/1,000,000 micro () Sv
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 58
A note of caution:
Energy deposition in
matter is a random
event and the
definition of dose
breaks down for
small volumes (e.g.
a single cell). The
discipline of Micro-
dosimetry aims to
address this issue.
Adapted from Zaider 2000
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 59
H
e
= w
r
* D

D: absorbed dose (Gy), w
r
: radiation weighting factor (1-20)

H
eff
=w
T
*H
e


H
e
: equivalent dose (Sv), w
T
: tissue weighting factor (0.05-0.20)
Unit: 1 Sv (sievert)
Equivalent Dose/
Effective Dose
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 60
Effective Dose
E w H
T
T
T
=

Tissue or organ Weighting factor


Gonads 0.20
Bone marrow (red) 0.12
Colon 0.12
Lung 0.12
Stomach 0.12
Bladder 0.05
Breast 0.05
Liver 0.05
Oesophagus 0.05
Thyroid 0.01
Bone surface 0.01
Remainder (adrenals, kidney, muscle, 0.05
upper large intestine, small intestine,
pancreas, spleen, thymus, uterus, brain)
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 61
Diagnostic Effective Dose (mSv)
0.01
0.1
1
10
cardioangiography thyroid I-131
CT pelvis myocard Tl-201
large intestine
CT abdomen CBF Tc-99m
urography thyroid I-123
lumbar spine bone Tc-99m
thyroid Tc-99m
liver Tc-99m
lung Tc-99m
chest renography I-131


extremities
blood volume I-125
dental clearance Cr-51
X-ray Nuclear medicine
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 62
Rolf Sievert (1896-1966)
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 63
Collective Dose
The total equivalent dose or effective dose to a certain
population, such as all patients in a nuclear medicine
department, all staff in the department, the whole
population in a country etc.

The unit is 1 manSv
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 64
Collective effective doses in Sweden
Part 2. Radiation Physics
Module 2.6. Radiation Detectors
IAEA Training Material on Radiation Protection in Nuclear Medicine

Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 66
The detector is a fundamental base
in all practice with ionizing radiation
Knowledge of instrumentation
potential as well as their limitation
is essential for proper interpretation
of the measurements
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 67
Any material that exhibits measurable radiation related
changes can be used as detector for ionising radiation.

Change of colours
Chemical changes
Emission of visible light
Electric charge
..
..

Active detectors: immediate measurement of the change.
Passive detectors: processing before reading
Detector Material

Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 68
Detector Principles
Gas filled detectors
ionisation chambers
proportional counters
Geiger Mller (GM) -
tubes
Scintillation detectors
solid
liquid
Other detectors
Semi conductor detectors
Film
Thermoluminescence
detectors (TLD)
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 69
1) Counters
Gas filled detectors
Scintillation detectors
2) Spectrometers
Scintillation detectors
Solid state detectors
3) Dosimeters
Gas filled detectors
Solid state detectors
Scintillation detectors
Thermoluminescent detectors
Films
Detector Types
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 70
Gas-filled Detectors
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 71
Ionization Chamber
HV
+
-
Negative ion

Positive ion
1234
Electrometer
The response is proportional to
ionization rate (activity, exposure rate)
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 72
Activity Meter
Monitoring Instruments/
Survey Meters
Ionization Chambers
Applications in Nuclear Medicine
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 73
General Properties of
Ionization Chambers
High accuracy
Stable
Relatively low
sensitivity
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 74
Regions of Operation for Gas-
filled Detectors
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 75
Proportional Counter
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 76
Monitoring Instruments
Proportional Counters
Applications in Nuclear Medicine
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 77
Properties of Proportional
Counters as Monitor
A little higher sensitivity than the
ionization chamber
Used for particles and low energy
photons
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 78
-
+
-
A single incident particle cause full ionization
Geiger Mller-Tube Principle
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 79
Contamination Monitor
Dosemeter (if calibrated)
Geiger Mller - Tube
Applications in Nuclear Medicine
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 80
High Sensitivity
Lower Accuracy
General Properties of
Geiger Mller - Tubes
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 81
Scintillation Detectors
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Detector
Photocathode
cathodd
Dynodes
Anode
Amplifier
PHA
Scaler
Scintillation Detector
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 83
Pulse Height Analyzer
UL


LL
Time
Pulse height (V)
The pulse height analyzer allows only pulses of a certain height
(energy) to be counted.

counted
not counted
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 84
Pulse-Height Distribution
NaI(Tl)
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 85
PM PM
Sample mixed
with scintillation
solution
Liquid Scintillation Detector
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 86
Sample counters
Single- and multi-probe systems
Monitoring instruments
Gamma camera
PET Scanners
Scintillation Detectors
Applications in Nuclear Medicine
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 87
Other Detectors
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 88
Semi-conductor Detector as
Spectrometer
Solid Germanium or Ge(Li) detectors
Principle: electron - hole pairs
(analogous to ion-pairs in gas-filled
detectors)
Excellent energy resolution
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 89
Knoll
Comparison of spectrum
from a Na(I) scintillation
detector and a Ge(Li)
semi-conductor detector
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 90
Identification of nuclides
Control of radionuclide purity
Semi-conductor Detectors
Applications in Nuclear Medicine
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 91
Principle: As normal photographic film
Silver halide grains, via changes due to
irradiation and development to metallic
silver
Application in Nuclear Medicine: Personal
dosemeter
Film
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 92
Film
Requires processing ---> problems with
reproducibility
Two dimensional dosimeter
High spatial resolution
High atomic number ---> variations of
response with radiation quality
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 93
Thermoluminescence
TLD principle
thermoluminescent
material
heating filament
emitted light
photomultiplier
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 94
HEATING
ionising radiation
electron
trap
visible light
1
2
Simplified Scheme of the TLD
Process
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 95
Thermoluminescence
Dosimetry (TLD)
Small crystals
Tissue equivalent
Passive dosimeter - no cables required
Wide dosimetric range (Gy to 100s of
Gy)
Many different applications
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 96
Applications in Nuclear medicine

Personal Dosemeters (body, fingers)
Special Measurements
Thermoluminescence
Dosimetry (TLD)
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 97
Disadvantages:

Time consuming
No permanent record
Thermoluminescence
Dosimetry (TLD)
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 98
Ques-
tions?
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 99
Discussion

A Mo/Tc generator contains 15 GBq
Mo-99 at a certain time. What activity
concentration of Tc-99m will we get 15h
later if the elution volume is 3 ml?
Assume an elution efficiency of 75%.
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 100
Discussion
A treatment is performed using iodine-
131. Which are the dominating modes
of interaction between the emitted types
of radiation and human soft tissue?
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 101
Discussion
A laboratory is performing work with H-3.
Discuss the type of detector suitable to
detect contamination of equipment and
work areas.
Nuclear Medicine Part 2: Radiation Physics 102
Where to Get More Information
Further readings:
WHO Manual on Radiation Protection in Hospital
and General Practice. Volume 1 Basic
Requirements
Cherry SR, Sorensen JA & Phelps ME. Physics in
Nuclear Medicine. 2003