Projection imaging of photon beams by the Čerenkov effect




A novel technique for beam profiling of megavoltage photon beams was investigated for the first time by capturing images of the induced Čerenkov emission in water, as a potential surrogate for the imparted dose in irradiated media.


A high-sensitivity, intensified CCD camera (ICCD) was configured to acquire 2D projection images of Čerenkov emission from a 4 × 4 cm2 6 MV linear accelerator (LINAC) x-ray photon beam operating at a dose rate of 400 MU/min incident on a water tank with transparent walls. The ICCD acquisition was gated to the LINAC sync pulse to reduce background light artifacts, and the measurement quality was investigated by evaluating the signal to noise ratio and measurement repeatability as a function of delivered dose. Monte Carlo simulations were used to derive a calibration factor for differences between the optical images and deposited dose arising from the anisotropic angular dependence of Čerenkov emission. Finally, Čerenkov-based beam profiles were compared to a percent depth dose (PDD) and lateral dose profile at a depth of dmax from a reference dose distribution generated from the clinical Varian ECLIPSE treatment planning system (TPS).


The signal to noise ratio was found to be 20 at a delivered dose of 66.6 cGy, and proportional to the square root of the delivered dose as expected from Poisson photon counting statistics. A 2.1% mean standard deviation and 5.6% maximum variation in successive measurements were observed, and the Monte Carlo derived calibration factor resulted in Čerenkov emission images which were directly correlated to deposited dose, with some spatial issues. The dose difference between the TPS and PDD predicted by Čerenkov measurements was within 20% in the buildup region with a distance to agreement (DTA) of 1.5–2 mm and ±3% at depths beyonddmax. In the lateral profile, the dose difference at the beam penumbra was within ±13% with a DTA of 0–2 mm, ±5% in the central beam region, and 2%–3% in the beam umbra.


The results from this initial study demonstrate the first documented use of Čerenkov emission imaging to profile x-ray photon LINAC beams in water. The proposed modality has several potential advantages over alternative methods, and upon future refinement may prove to be a robust and novel dosimetry method.