High spatiotemporal resolution scintillation imaging of pulsed pencil beam scanning proton beams produced by a gantry-mounted synchrocyclotron

S. Murty Goddu, Yao Hao, Zhen Ji, Jufri Setianegara, Fengwei Liu, Winter Green, Lee G. Sobotka, Tianyu Zhao, Stephanie Perkins, Arash Darafsheh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: A dosimeter with high spatial and temporal resolution would be of significant interest for pencil beam scanning (PBS) proton beams’ characterization, especially when facing small fields and beams with high temporal dynamics. Optical imaging of scintillators has potential in providing sub-millimeter spatial resolution with pulse-by-pulse basis temporal resolution when the imaging system is capable of operating in synchrony with the beam-producing accelerator. Purpose: We demonstrate the feasibility of imaging PBS proton beams as they pass through a plastic scintillator detector to simultaneously obtain multiple beam parameters, including proton range, pencil beam's widths at different depths, spot's size, and spot's position on a pulse-by-pulse basis with sub-millimeter resolution. Materials and methods: A PBS synchrocyclotron was used for proton irradiation. A BC-408 plastic scintillator block with 30 × 30 × 5 cm3 size, and another block with 30 × 30 × 0.5 cm3 size, positioned in an optically sealed housing, were used sequentially to measure the proton range, and spot size/location, respectively. A high-speed complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) camera system synchronized with the accelerator's pulses through a gating module was used for imaging. Scintillation images, captured with the camera directly facing the 5-cm-thick scintillator, were corrected for background (BG), and ionization quenching of the scintillator to obtain the proton range. Spots’ position and size were obtained from scintillation images of the 0.5-cm-thick scintillator when a 45° mirror was used to reflect the scintillation light toward the camera. Results: Scintillation images with 0.16 mm/pixel resolution corresponding to all proton pulses were captured. Pulse-by-pulse analysis showed that variations of the range, spots’ position, and size were within ± 0.2% standard deviation of their average values. The absolute ranges were within ± 1 mm of their expected values. The average spot-positions were mostly within ± 0.8 mm and spots’ sigma agreed within 0.2 mm of the expected values. Conclusion: Scintillation-imaging PBS beams with high-spatiotemporal resolution is feasible and may help in efficient and cost-effective acceptance testing and commissioning of existing and even emerging technologies such as FLASH, grid, mini-beams, and so forth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4996-5006
Number of pages11
JournalMedical physics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2024


  • imaging
  • proton therapy
  • quality assurance
  • scintillation
  • synchrocyclotron


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