A novel future ion therapy accelerator


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The key research goals in this project are:

  • To conduct a study of a compact accelerator that offers rapid variation of p, He and C ions in a single accelerator.
  • To develop an optics design and performance estimation of a candidate ring for multi-ion delivery.
  • To work towards a technology demonstrator beamline at the University of Melbourne.

The details

Proton therapy is the most rapidly-expanding method of radiotherapy, with a number of new proton treatment centres being established around the world. These centres are primarily based on high-intensity isochronous cyclotrons. An example of this is the 250 MeV Varian cyclotron that Professor Appleby is using for research into rapid beam delivery, and at which a research beamline has been installed.

Although proton therapy is now well-established clinically, with more than 100 treatment rooms presently in operation, there are comparatively few facilities that offer radiotherapy with other ions. There are several European and Japanese facilities that concentrate on carbon therapy, and which utilise synchrotrons, but there is a need to establish a future design of facility that can offer more rapid treatment and variable ion type.

There is currently no consensus as to the correct technology, but it is likely that either synchrotrons or Fixed-Field, Alternating-Gradient (FFA) accelerators will offer the best performance. We’re conducting a study of a compact accelerator that offers rapid variation of p, He and C ions in a single accelerator. The likely best option for this is an FFA similar to the previous PAMELA proposal, but with a simplified design to allow it to be more cost-effective.

The design is being informed by the significant experience of the supervision team, who have all worked extensively on FFA systems that include the PAMELA medical FFA project. We maintain collaboration with the CBETA project that has recently demonstrated wide energy acceptance in a comparable system designed for a separate application. We also engage with CERN and its HITRI/NIMMS project.

Both the UK and Australian clinical communities have held discussions about the potential of ion therapy facilities in each country, and this work may assist in informing decisions about future UK and Australian facilities.

The graduate researcher on this project is: Adam Steinberg

Supervision team

First published on 15 July 2022.

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