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Development of a Probe-Format Graphite Calorimeter for Practical Clinical Dosimetry: Numerical Design Optimization, Prototyping, and Experimental Proof-Of-Concept

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J Renaud

J Renaud1*, A Sarfehnia2 , J Seuntjens1 , (1) McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, (2) Sunnybrook Hospital, Toronto, Ontario


WE-AB-BRB-1 (Wednesday, July 15, 2015) 7:30 AM - 9:30 AM Room: Ballroom B

Purpose: In this work, the feasibility of performing absolute dose to water measurements using a constant temperature graphite probe calorimeter (GPC) in a clinical environment is established.

Methods: A numerical design optimization study was conducted by simulating the heat transfer in the GPC resulting from irradiation using a finite element method software package. The choice of device shape, dimensions, and materials was made to minimize the heat loss in the sensitive volume of the GPC. The resulting design, which incorporates a novel aerogel-based thermal insulator, and 15 temperature sensitive resistors capable of both Joule heating and measuring temperature, was constructed in house. A software based process controller was developed to stabilize the temperatures of the GPC’s constituent graphite components to within a few 10’s of μK. This control system enables the GPC to operate in either the quasi-adiabatic or isothermal mode, two well-known, and independent calorimetry techniques. Absorbed dose to water measurements were made using these two methods under standard conditions in a 6 MV 1000 MU/min photon beam and subsequently compared against TG-51 derived values.

Results: Compared to an expected dose to water of 76.9 cGy/100 MU, the average GPC-measured doses were 76.5 ± 0.5 and 76.9 ± 0.5 cGy/100 MU for the adiabatic and isothermal modes, respectively. The Monte Carlo calculated graphite to water dose conversion was 1.013, and the adiabatic heat loss correction was 1.003. With an overall uncertainty of about 1%, the most significant contributions were the specific heat capacity (type B, 0.8%) and the repeatability (type A, 0.6%).

Conclusion: While the quasi-adiabatic mode of operation had been validated in previous work, this is the first time that the GPC has been successfully used isothermally. This proof-of-concept will serve as the basis for further study into the GPC’s application to small fields and MRI-linac dosimetry.

Funding Support, Disclosures, and Conflict of Interest: This work has been supported in part by the CREATE Medical Physics Research Training Network of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) grant 432290, NSERC grants RGPIN 298191 & 435608-13, Canadian Institutes of Health Research doctoral scholarship GSD-121793. This work has also been supported by Sun Nuclear Corporation.

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