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Radiat Prot Dosimetry. 2006;122(1-4):285-91. Epub 2006 Nov 28.

A comparative review of charged particle microbeam facilities.

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  • 1INFN-Laboratori Nazionali di Legnaro, Viale dell'Universit√† 2, I-35020 Legnaro, Padova, Italy.


At the low doses (and low dose rates) relevant to environmental and occupational radiation exposure (0-50 mSv), which are of practical concern for radiation protection, very few cells in the human organism experience more than one traversal by densely ionising particles in their lifetime, the intervals between the tracks, if any, typically being months or years. The biological effects of exactly one particle are not well known and cannot be simulated in vitro by conventional broad-beam exposures, due to the random Poisson distribution of tracks. Charged particle microbeam facilities are a unique tool that allows targeting of single cells and analysis of the induced damage on a cell-by-cell basis. In the past few years, many charged particle microbeam facilities for radiobiology have come into operation or are under development worldwide. Different experimental designs have been adopted at various laboratories regarding the achievement of micrometre (or sub-micrometre) ion beam size, by mechanical collimation or focusing, particle detection, and cell recognition and positioning systems. The different approaches are reviewed and discussed in this paper.

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