A group of physicists from Brookhaven National Laboratory have been awarded a patent for a new medical synchrotron design that promises to deliver proton beam therapy with a tighter, more precise beam using a smaller machine at lower cost.
From Brookhaven NL:
The new accelerator design developed by the Brookhaven team offers two main advantages: “rapid cycling” and “strong focusing.”
Rapid cycling allows proton beams to be injected and extracted from the synchrotron in just one turn around the circular particle accelerator. Unlike the earlier machines, which required multiple turns, this eliminates the need for sensitive feedback systems to control the beam currents.
“This makes the machine more robust and reliable to operate. It’s more of a turn-key operation,” Peggs said. “Turn it on and it consistently starts up like a transformer, rather than booting up like a PC.”
Strong focusing refers to the ability to shape the proton beam and keep it focused to pinpoint dimensions. In contrast to the Loma Linda machine, where beams measure up to a centimeter across, the new design can achieve beams as narrow as one millimeter.
Pinpoint accuracy reduces collateral damage and allows physicians more flexibility in the doses they use. Higher doses could yield more effective therapy, possibly in fewer treatments.
Compact beam size has other benefits as well: smaller components (beam pipes, magnets, etc.) for the whole device. That makes everything lighter, and less expensive, Peggs said. Smaller size will also eliminate the need for water-cooling most magnets; air-cooling will be sufficient. That adds up to even more cost savings.