Biological effects of laser-accelerated Carbon ion bursts

Lead Research Organisation: Queen's University of Belfast
Department Name: Sch of Mathematics and Physics

Abstract

The use of ion beams in cancer radiotherapy is an emerging approach,
which exploits the advantageous energy deposition properties of ions as
compared to commonly used X-rays. While most existing centres
employ protons, the interest in heavier ion species (e.g. Carbon) is
growing, particularly in relation to a wide class of radioresistant tumours.
The high cost of the facilities required (particularly for Carbon) is a
limiting factor to the growth of ion therapy, and the use of laser accelerated
beams as a future cost-saving alternative is attracting
significant interest worldwide.
Based on emerging laser-driven mechanisms for efficient acceleration
of both protons and heavier ion species, the A-SAIL project aims to
progress laser-based acceleration to therapeutically relevant
parameters. Testing the biological effects of laser-accelerated beams is
a key objective, with particular attention to any novel effect related to the
ultrahigh dose rates (>109 Gy/s) associated to the ion bursts.
Within this framework, the PhD project will aim to develop a platform
enabling the assessment of the radiobiological effectiveness of laser accelerated
carbon ion beams. The production and delivery of Carbon
ions at energies and particle densities suitable for radiobiological
investigations will be pursued in experiments at major high-power laser
facilities in UK and abroad. Employing these beams, the project will test,
with relevant assays in cell and tissue models (including investigations
under hypoxia), the quality and quantity of DNA damage produced by
the laser-driven carbon ions, which will be comparatively assessed
against irradiations employing protons, x-rays and conventional Carbon
bunches from RF accelerators.

Publications

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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509541/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2021
1786405 Studentship EP/N509541/1 01/10/2016 31/03/2020 Aodhan Peadar McIlvenny
 
Description This award has allowed for the continuing understanding of laser accelerated ions as a potential alternative to conventional costly accelerators. I have participated in a broad range of experiments utilising many types of target (ion source) with focus on ultra-thin carbon foils to produce high energy carbon ions of clinical interest (ultra high dose rate of 10^9 Gy/s). The award has helped increase the understanding of the complex dynamics of ultrashort laser pulses with these targets composed of multiple species (carbon and hydrogen) which is vital as the community prepares for the next generation of laser facilities where these ion beams will have dedicated areas for clinical/industrial use. This type of interaction will become the standard as it is predicted by theory however theoretical understanding of the interplay between the two species has not been well studied.
Following on from this successful experiment, these carbon ion beams were used for the first time to radiate radio-resistant cancer cells (resistant to conventional x-rays used for radiotherapy) in a simple yet effective set up of a monolayer of cells. Whilst not the same as irradiating a tumor within a body, it provides a proof of principle study on the complex damage these unique sources of ions can do to cancer cells.
Exploitation Route These findings will be a huge benefit to the academic community for understanding of high power laser-solid interactions. This will help with the control of these ion beams for current and next generation research facilities for medical and industrial use.
Sectors Energy,Healthcare

 
Description European Advanced Acceleration Concepts Workshop 2017 Contributed Talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact A European wide workshop on the work produced by teams of scientists on the next generation of laser plasma accelerators convened and I provided a contributed talk which was met with plenty of interest and questions. I was approached by scientists after my talk to discuss the possibility of producing ion beams on various other laser facilities
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description European Conference of Laser Interaction with Matter - European meeting on high power laser matter interactions 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact European meeting on high power laser matter interactions convenes every 2 years to discuss the latest advances and innovations in the field and I presented a contributed talk based on my work of laser driven ion acceleration.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description High Power Laser Christmas Meeting - Yearly meeting of the national laser user community 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact I provided a contributed talk at a national meeting of users of the laser facilities
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017