Beam quality conversion factors for parallel-plate ionization chambers in MV photon beams




To investigate the behavior of plane-parallel ion chambers in high-energy photon beams through measurements and Monte Carlo simulations.


Ten plane-parallel ion chamber types were obtained from the major ion chamber manufacturers. Absorbed dose-to-water calibration coefficients are measured for these chambers andkQ factors are determined. In the process, the behaviors of the chambers are characterized through measurements of leakage currents, chamber settling in cobalt-60, polarity and ion recombination behavior, and long-term stability. Monte Carlo calculations of the absorbed dose to the air in the ion chamber and absorbed dose to water are obtained to calculate kQ factors. Systematic uncertainties in Monte Carlo calculated kQ factors are investigated by varying material properties and chamber dimensions.


Chamber behavior was variable in MV photon beams, especially with regard to chamber leakage and ion recombination. The plane-parallel chambers did not perform as well as cylindrical chambers. Significant differences up to 1.5% were observed in calibration coefficients after a period of eight months althoughkQ factors were consistent on average within 0.17%. Chamber-to-chamber variations in kQ factors for chambers of the same type were at the 0.2% level. Systematic uncertainties in Monte Carlo calculated kQ factors ranged between 0.34% and 0.50% depending on the chamber type. Average percent differences between measured and calculated kQ factors were − 0.02%, 0.18%, and − 0.16% for 6, 10, and 25 MV beams, respectively.


Excellent agreement is observed on average at the 0.2% level between measured and Monte Carlo calculatedkQ factors. Measurements indicate that the behavior of these chambers is not adequate for their use for reference dosimetry of high-energy photon beams without a more extensive QA program than currently used for cylindrical reference-class ion chambers.