Calibration of the borated ion chamber at NIST reactor thermal column

Z. Wang, N. E. Hertel, A. Lennox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


In boron neutron capture therapy and boron neutron capture enhanced fast neutron therapy, the absorbed dose of tissue due to the boron neutron capture reaction is difficult to measure directly. This dose can be computed from the measured thermal neutron fluence rate and the 10B concentration at the site of interest. A borated tissue-equivalent (TE) ion chamber can be used to directly measure the boron dose in a phantom under irradiation by a neutron beam. Fermilab has two Exradin 0.5 cm3 Spokas thimble TE ion chambers, one loaded with boron, available for such measurements. At the Fermilab Neutron Therapy Facility, these ion chambers are generally used with air as the filling gas. Since alpha particles and lithium ions from the 10B(n,α) 7Li reactions have very short ranges in air, the Bragg-Gray principle may not be satisfied for the borated TE ion chamber. A calibration method is described in this paper for the determination of boron capture dose using paired ion chambers. The two TE ion chambers were calibrated in the thermal column of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) research reactor. The borated TE ion chamber is loaded with 1000 ppm of natural boron (184 ppm of 10B). The NIST thermal column has a cadmium ratio of greater than 400 as determined by gold activation. The thermal neutron fluence rate during the calibration was determined using a NIST fission chamber to an accuracy of 5.1%. The chambers were calibrated at two different thermal neutron fluence rates: 5.11 × 106 and 4.46 × 107n cm-2 s-1. The non-borated ion chamber reading was used to subtract collected charge not due to boron neutron capture reactions. An optically thick lithium slab was used to attenuate the thermal neutrons from the neutron beam port so the responses of the chambers could be corrected for fast neutrons and gamma rays in the beam. The calibration factor of the borated ion chamber was determined to be 1.83 × 109 ± 5.5% (± 1σ) n cm-2 per nC at standard temperature and pressure condition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)626-630
Number of pages5
JournalRadiation protection dosimetry
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Radiation
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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