The application of experimental microdosimetry to mixed-field neutron-gamma dosimetry

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Absorbed dose distributions in lineal energy for neutrons and gamma rays were measured by using both a tissue-equivalent walled counter (TEPC) and a graphite-walled low pressure proportional counter (GPC) in the Am-Be neutron source facility at University of Ontario Institute of Technology. A series of measurements were performed with the counters filled with propane-based TE gas (55.1% C3H8, 39.5% CO2 and 5.4% N2) at operating gas pressures corresponding to tissue spheres 2.0 , 4.0 and 8.0 μm in diameter. The results of these measurements indicated satisfactory performance of counters to measure microdosimetric spectra extending down to event-sizes that cover the gamma component of a mixed field. The spectra and the related mean values ̅y F and ̅y D are compared with other similar work but with monoenergetic neutrons of different energy range, the agreement between them is good. An assessment of the performance of different size TEPC has been done. An excellent agreement between their event size spectra was found and the proton edge appears at the same position on the lineal energy scale and differences in microdosimetric parameters ̅ and ̅ is not exceeding 3%, which is in the region of counting statistics. In Am-Be neutron field, the efficiency of the TEPCs was measured to have an average value of 250 counts per μSv or equivalently about 4.17 counts per minutes per μSv/hr. This efficiency is reasonable for dose equivalent measurements but needs a long integration period. The measurements showed that the dose equivalent which depends on the measurement of energy deposition by the secondary charged particles was originated mainly from elastic collisions of the incident neutrons with hydrogen atoms. Moreover the number of events in the sensitive gas is dominated by proton recoils. A non- negligible fraction of the dose equivalent resulted from gamma interactions, alpha and recoil nuclei. The energy deposition patterns in these micro-scale targets are strongly dependent on radiation quality, so differences of linear energy transfer (LET) of the components in a mixed radiation field are significant. Accordingly, in a radiation field with an unknown gamma ray energy spectrum, absorbed dose for neutrons can be obtained by the separation of neutron induced events from gamma events using their distribution in lineal energy. To separate neutron dose from gamma dose a simple lineal energy threshold technique has been used in addition to a more sophisticated methods using γ-fitting and the graphite-walled counter measurements. The results of this study will establish the degree of error introduced by using a lineal energy threshold, which is likely to be used in any hand-held neutron monitor based on TEPCs.
Mixed field dosimetry, Microdosimetry, TEPC, GPC, Am-Be neutronsource