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Radiat Prot Dosimetry. 2011 Jun;145(4):373-6. doi: 10.1093/rpd/ncq424. Epub 2010 Dec 3.

An accelerator-based neutron microbeam system for studies of radiation effects.

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Radiological Research Accelerator Facility, Columbia University, Irvington, NY 10533, USA.


A novel neutron microbeam is being developed at the Radiological Research Accelerator Facility (RARAF) of Columbia University. The RARAF microbeam facility has been used for studies of radiation bystander effects in mammalian cells for many years. Now a prototype neutron microbeam is being developed that can be used for bystander effect studies. The neutron microbeam design here is based on the existing charged particle microbeam technology at the RARAF. The principle of the neutron microbeam is to use the proton beam with a micrometre-sized diameter impinging on a very thin lithium fluoride target system. From the kinematics of the ⁷Li(p,n)⁷Be reaction near the threshold of 1.881 MeV, the neutron beam is confined within a narrow, forward solid angle. Calculations show that the neutron spot using a target with a 17-µm thick gold backing foil will be <20 µm in diameter for cells attached to a 3.8-µm thick propylene-bottomed cell dish in contact with the target backing. The neutron flux will roughly be 2000 per second based on the current beam setup at the RARAF singleton accelerator. The dose rate will be about 200 mGy min⁻¹. The principle of this neutron microbeam system has been preliminarily tested at the RARAF using a collimated proton beam. The imaging of the neutron beam was performed using novel fluorescent nuclear track detector technology based on Mg-doped luminescent aluminum oxide single crystals and confocal laser scanning fluorescent microscopy.

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