SPENCER-ATTIX CAVITY THEORYGudrun Alm CarlssonDept of Radiation Physics, IMVFaculty of Health SciencesS-581 85 LINKÖPINGThe cavity theory by Spencer and Attix treats the energy deposition in a Bragg-Gray (B-G)cavity (detector). Originally the theory was developed for the case of a B-G detector inside amedium irradiated with photons and assuming electronic equilibrium in the medium at theposition of the cavity. The theory is also applicable in media irradiated with other types of uncharged ionizing particles (e.g., neutrons) and charged particles such as electrons andprotons.The special case of photon irradiation under CPE (charged particle equilibrium) conditionswas coupled to a model for calculating the energy spectrum of the equilibrium fluence of electrons in the undisturbed medium. For other situations, e.g., in a medium externallyirradiated with electrons, the problem is to evaluate the energy spectrum of the electronfluence at the point considered in the medium. Today, this is mostly accomplished usingMonte Carlo simulations.A Bragg-Gray cavity is regarded to be so small that:
the energy imparted to the cavity from electrons released by photons in the cavity isnegligible compared to the energy imparted from electrons released by photons in thesurrounding medium and passing through the cavity
the cavity should not disturb the fluence of electrons in the medium, i. e., the fluence of electrons traversing the cavity is assumed to be identical to that existing at the point of interest in the medium in the absence of the cavity.
1. Experimental findings
The measured ionization in an air filled cavity was found to differ significantly from theionization calculated according to the Bragg-Gray-Lawrence theory, especially when thematerial of the wall had a high atomic number. The ionization per unit mass of air,proportional to the mean absorbed dose in air, also varied with the size of the air cavity atsmall cavity sizes. An argument made by Gray in the early development of B-G theory wasthat as long as the ionization in the cavity gas increased linearly with cavity size, the cavitycould be considered to fulfil the requirements on a B-G detector. In 1955 both Burch (Burch1955) and Spencer and Attix (Spencer and Attix 1955) came up with an explanation to thisdeviation from Gray´s theory and formulated new expressions for the conversion factor
for a B-G detector. While Burch was not able to quantify his expression for
, Spencer and Attix managed to develop an expression that could be solvednumerically.