Heavy-ion transport codes for radiotherapy and radioprotection in space
Simulation of the transport of heavy ions in matter is a field of nuclear science that has recently received attention in view of its importance for some relevant applications. Accelerated heavy ions can, for example, be used to treat cancers (heavy-ion radiotherapy) and show some superior qualities with respect to more conventional treatment systems, like photons (x-rays) or protons. Furthermore, long-term manned space missions (like a possible future mission to Mars) pose the challenge to protect astronauts and equipment on board against the harmful space radiation environment, where heavy ions can be responsible for a significant share of the exposure risk.
The high accuracy expected from a transport algorithm (especially in the case of radiotherapy) and the large amount of semi-empirical knowledge necessary to even state the transport problem properly rule out any analytical approach; the alternative is to resort to numerical simulations in order to build treatment-planning systems for cancer or to aid space engineers in shielding design. This thesis is focused on the description of HIBRAC, a one-dimensional deterministic code optimised for radiotherapy, and PHITS (Particle and Heavy-Ion Transport System), a general-purpose three-dimensional Monte-Carlo code. The structure of both codes is outlined and some relevant results are presented. In the case of PHITS, we also report the first results of an ongoing comprehensive benchmarking program for the main components of the code; we present the comparison of partial charge-changing cross sections for a 400 MeV/n Ar-40 beam impinging on carbon, polyethylene, aluminium, copper, tin and lead targets.
charge-changing cross sections
radioprotection in space