Sci-Sat AM: Radiation Dosimetry and Practical Therapy Solutions - 09: Stability of a water calorimetry system as a primary standard for absorbed dose to water




To investigate the stability of a water calorimetry system as a primary standard for absorbed dose to water using measurements performed in cobalt-60 and high-energy linac photon beams over a span of more than a decade.


Calorimetry measures adsorbed dose directly by recording the amount of heat created when ionizing radiation passes through matter. The radiation-induced temperature rise was measured using two thermistors calibrated against the NRC temperature primary standard, using an AC bridge with lock-in amplifier for precise measurement. The calorimeter system was operated under thermal equilibrium at 4 °C (to eliminate convection) with drifts in water temperature less than 0.1 mK/min. Seven water vessels of various designs were used to make repeated measurements over the course of 17 years.


The standard uncertainty achieved for a set of ten calorimeter measurements (4 Gy delivered) was generally well below 0.15 % while the variation between multiple sets for a given vessel was consistent with this value. The long-term stability of the system combined with inter-vessel variations indicated that there was good control of the radiochemistry (chemical heat defect).


The measurements performed over a period of several years showed that the combined water calorimeters showed stability at +/− 0.25 % level. Thus, rather than relying on a particular vessel as an artifact one can realize the Gray through the more generalized method of combining a glass vessel, high-purity water and thermistor probes. This provides increased robustness in the dissemination of absorbed dose to Canadian users.