A diode for correction-less small field output factor measurements

Charles, P. H., Cranmer-Sargison, G., Crowe, S. B., Kairn, T., Thwaites, D. I., & Trapp, J. V. (2014) A diode for correction-less small field output factor measurements. Australasian Physical and Engineering Sciences in Medicine, 37(1), pp. 200-201.

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Due to their high spatial resolution diodes are often used for small field relative output factor measurements. However, a field size specific correction factor [1] is required and corrects for diode detector over-response at small field sizes. A recent Monte Carlo based study has shown that it is possible to design a diode detector that produces measured relative output factors that are equivalent to those in water. This is accomplished by introducing an air gap at the upstream end of the diode [2]. The aim of this study was to physically construct this diode by placing an ‘air cap’ on the end of a commercially available diode (the PTW 60016 electron diode). The output factors subsequently measured with the new diode design were compared to current benchmark small field output factor measurements.


A water-tight ‘cap’ was constructed so that it could be placed over the upstream end of the diode. The cap was able to be offset from the end of the diode, thus creating an air gap. The air gap width was the same as the diode width (7 mm) and the thickness of the air gap could be varied. Output factor measurements were made using square field sizes of side length from 5 to 50 mm, using a 6 MV photon beam. The set of output factor measurements were repeated with the air gap thickness set to 0, 0.5, 1.0 and 1.5 mm. The optimal air gap thickness was found in a similar manner to that proposed by Charles et al. [2]. An IBA stereotactic field diode, corrected using Monte Carlo calculated kq,clin,kq,msr values [3] was used as the gold standard.


The optimal air thickness required for the PTW 60016 electron diode was 1.0 mm. This was close to the Monte Carlo predicted value of 1.15 mm2. The sensitivity of the new diode design was independent of field size (kq,clin,kq,msr = 1.000 at all field sizes) to within 1 %.

Discussion and conclusions

The work of Charles et al. [2] has been proven experimentally. An existing commercial diode has been converted into a correction-less small field diode by the simple addition of an ‘air cap’. The method of applying a cap to create the new diode leads to the diode being dual purpose, as without the cap it is still an unmodified electron diode.

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ID Code: 71403
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
DOI: 10.1007/s13246-014-0248-y
ISSN: 1879-5447
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PHYSICAL SCIENCES (020000) > OTHER PHYSICAL SCIENCES (029900) > Medical Physics (029903)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Chemistry, Physics & Mechanical Engineering
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Deposited On: 12 May 2014 22:46
Last Modified: 06 Sep 2016 03:13

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