Fundamental Physics of Radiology by W. J. Meredith

By W. J. Meredith

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The transformation constant A. Nmax is inversely proportional to A. 2 . The number of neutrons passing through the material per second. This is called the ' n e u t r o n flux'. 3 . The ability of the irradiated material to capture neutrons. This is called its ' c a p t u r e cross-section'. By contrast, the rate at which the maximum, or any fraction of it, is attained depends only u p o n the transformation constant A. This is illustrated in Fig. 19 A which shows the growth of a particular radioactive isotope through bombardment at two different neutron fluxes.

18 shows the growth of a radioactive isotope (phosphorus 32) a n d the equilibrium that is attained. It also shows the way in which the amount of phosphorus 32 would have increased h a d there been n o decay. , the equilibrium quantity; A is the transformation constant of the isotope being produced. (T*)A (T±)B B Fig. 1 9 . — H o w the growth o f a radioactive product depends o n neutron flux a n d the material being irradiated: A, T h e s a m e material irradiated at t w o different fluxes; B, Different materials in the same flux.

And so the pattern rises to a crescendo of increasing ionization density at the end of the track. This ionization pattern, which is the same for all charged particles, is represented by the Bragg Curve, so called after the discoverer of the phenomenon. Fig. 12 shows this initially gradual and finally steep build-up of ionization density along the track of the particle—the Bragg curve—and also indicates that the particle has a definite range, in this case about 7 cm. This definite range for charged particles, which depends on their initial energy as well as upon the particle charge, is in distinct contrast with the exponential attenuation of photons, which will be discussed later.

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