Design and testing of a microcontroller that enables alpha particle irradiators to deliver complex dose rate patterns

Tomer Nawrocki, Thomas C. Tritt, Prasad V.S.V. Neti, Alex S. Rosen, Akhil R. Dondapati, Roger W. Howell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


There is increasing interest in using alpha particle emitting radionuclides for cancer therapy because of their unique cytotoxic properties which are advantageous for eradicating tumor cells. The high linear energy transfer (LET) of alpha particles produces a correspondingly high density of ionizations along their track. Alpha particle emitting radiopharmaceuticals deposit this energy in tissues over prolonged periods with complex dose rate patterns that depend on the physical half-life of the radionuclide, and the biological uptake and clearance half-times in tumor and normal tissues. We have previously shown that the dose rate increase half-time that arises as a consequence of these biokinetics can have a profound effect on the radiotoxicity of low-LET radiation. The microcontroller hardware and software described here offer a unique way to deliver these complex dose rate patterns with a broad-beam alpha particle irradiator, thereby enabling experiments to study the radiobiology of complex dose rate patterns of alpha particles. Complex dose rate patterns were created by precise manipulation of the timing of opening and closing of the electromechanical shutters of an α-particle irradiator. An Arduino Uno and custom circuitry was implemented to control the shutters. The software that controls the circuits and shutters has a user-friendly Graphic User Interface (GUI). Alpha particle detectors were used to validate the programmed dose rate profiles. Circuit diagrams and downloadable software are provided to facilitate adoption of this technology by other radiobiology laboratories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number245022
JournalPhysics in Medicine and Biology
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 18 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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