External beam therapy using very high energy electrons generated by laser-plasma wake-field accelerators

Project: Research

Project Details


Radiotherapy using external beams is one of the most important modalities in cancer treatment. Photon and ionising particle beams are used to treat a wide variety of cancers in different parts of the body. Devising an external beam modality requires to investigate the radiation field and dose distribution delivered by the beam source. The radiation applied should maximise the damage to cancerous tissue which keeping damage to healthy tissue to a minimum. Any modality has to satisfy clinical quality standards and should match the spatial and monetary constraints of modern hospitals. We propose to investigate the application of high energy electron beams generated in a laser-plasma wake-field accelerator to the field of cancer radiotherapy. Laser-plasma wake-field accelerators are a disruptive, yet compact technology providing electron beam of several hundred MeV in energy with excellent beam qualities and high efficiency. The compact design and high efficiency are attractive features for a widespread installation in cancer therapy centres, even at smaller hospitals. We propose to study the radiation field and dose distribution delivered by this facility. These results will feed into a comparative study of radiotherapy with conventional methods. Early indications and a literature survey suggest, that high energy electron beams provide superior dose delivery characteristics compared to conventional high energy photon beams, while being more cost effective than proton- or heavy ion based machines. Additional effects can be expected from the highly charged, very short electron bunches delivered by laser-plasma wake-field accelerators.
Effective start/end date1/04/1131/03/14


  • STFC Science and Technology Facilities Council: £127,864.00