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Chapter 8

MEDRADSC 2Z03 Chapter Notes - Chapter 8: Cyclotron, Electronvolt, Radionuclide

Medical Radiation Sciences
Course Code
Dawn Danko

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Cyclotrons are used to accelerate charged particles including hydrogen ions, deuterium
ions, and α-particles. The particles are accelerated under vacuum by an electric field and
are held in a spiral path by a magnetic field. The particle gains kinetic energy with each
turn within the cyclotron until the maximum radius of trajectory is reached and therefore
the maximum energy that the particle can achieve. Depending upon the design and size of
the cyclotron, the energies achieved by the accelerated particle typically range
from around 18 MeV (mega electron volts) to about 70 MeV. This range is typical for
commercially available cyclotrons.
In this section, we will look at irradiation of targets with a proton beam resulting from the
acceleration of hydrogen ions to an energy of 18 MeV. This method is typical of that
used by cyclotrons for radioisotope production for diagnostic nuclear medicine.
Figure 5: 18 MeV cyclotron (‘Cyclone 18 Twin’, IBA, Belgium)
Cyclotron targets are usually located external to the cyclotron chamber and are irradiated
with protons causing a nuclear reaction to take place. In the nuclear reaction, the proton is
absorbed by the nucleus of the target atom ‘exciting’ the nucleus to an excitation energy.
This energy is generally released by the emission of a subatomic particle, e.g. a neutron,
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