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Cross section and mean free path

 When a particle travels in any material, it will have certain probability to


interact with nuclei or with the electrons.

For a thin slice of material, probability is proportional to the thickness of the


slice and the no. of potential target particles per unit volume.

It will also depends on the nature of interaction. This intrinsic part is
expressed in terms of ‘cross section’.

 Cross section is not dimensionless, it has the unit of area.


 dw=dxN
dw: Probability of interaction
dx : thickness of very thin slice
N:No. of scattering centers per unit volume
: cross section, unit is barn. 1 barn= 10-24 cm2.

 Definition of P(x): Probability that a particle undergoes interaction in


travelling a distance ‘x’.
P(0)=0
dx
P(x+x)= P(x) + [1- P(x)] N x
P ( x  x )  P  x 
= [1  P ( x )]N 
x
dP ( x )
 [1  P ( x )]N 
dx
 dw=dxN
dw: Probability of interaction
dx : thickness of very thin slice
N:No. of scattering centers per unit volume
: cross section, unit is barn. 1 barn= 10-24 cm2.

 Definition of P(x): Probability that a particle undergoes interaction in


travelling a distance ‘x’.
P(0)=0
P(x+x)= P(x) + [1- P(x)] N x
P ( x  x )  P  x 
= [1  P ( x )]N 
x
dP ( x )
 [1  P ( x )]N 
dx
The solution of the differential equation:
[1  P ( x )]  e  xN
With the boundary condition [1-P(0)] = 1

The probability density (per unit path length) function for the interaction of
a particle after travelling a distance x is:
W ( x )  [1  P ( x )]N   e  xN N 

Mean free path of a particle before 1st collision is


 
   W ( x ) x dx   e  xN xN  dx
0 0
1

N A N
N
A
N: no. of interacting centers/volume, : density
NA: Avogadro no. A: Atomic weight
If the material contains two different types of scattering centers X and Y
1 1 1 1
  
N X  X  NY  Y   X Y

d
 tot   d
d
When a collimated particle beam impinges on a target, some particles are
removed by the physical reactions, resulting in an attenuated beam. The
physical reactions occurring between the beam and the target particles
include for example elastic scattering and particle production. A net
difference between the incoming and outgoing particles can be measured
and the removal probability of beam particles can be determined.

Assume the projectile particles to be


point particles.
Target as a disk of radius ‘R’.
R is the geometrical radius of the target.

g=R2 (unit of area)


 2 
d d
 Tot  d    sin d d
0 d  0   0 d 

d differential cross section per unit


:
d
solid angle.
Passage of ionizing particle through matter

The study of radiation detection requires a deep understanding of the


interaction of charged particles and photons with matter, where they deposit
energy via electromagnetic or nuclear process.

 First we consider the electromagnetic processes


Light
Charged particles:
heavy
Photons

The collision process induced by massive charged particles (particles with


rest mass much larger than the electron mass)
Bohr (1913), Bethe (1930), Heitler (1954), Stenheimer (1961)
2 4 2
Energy loss: dE 2  nz e 2 m e wm
v 2
  2
{ln[ 2 2
]  2     u} (A)
dx me v I (1   )
This is called the Bethe-Bloch equation.

Projectile: m, v = c, z (charge)
Mass of the electron: me,

n: no. of electrons/cm3 of the traversed medium


I: mean excitation potential of the atoms of the material,
wm: maximum transferable energy from incident charged particle to atomic
electrons
: correction for the density-effect
u: term related to the non-participation of inner shells (K, L, …) for very low
incoming kinetic energies (i.e. the shell correction terms)
The process involves the excitation and ionization of the atoms of the
medium traversed.
excitation: The electron transitions from their initial states to higher discrete
bound states,
Ionization: electron transitions from their initial states to states in the
continuum, where electrons are no longer bound.
ZNA
 n ; where
A
NA: Avogadro no.
: density in g/cm3
A, Z: atomic weight and atomic no.
The minus sign of dE/dx indicates that the energy is lost by the particle.

For a heavy particle, the collision energy loss dE/dx is also referred to as the
stopping power.

Maximum energy transferred ‘wm’ is for head on collision ( =0) is given as


2 2 me 2 m e 1
wm  2me e  [1  ( )  2 ]
m m
For low incoming velocity, i.e. p<<m2c/me and m>>me p 2
w m  2 me c 2 ( )
mc
substituting p=mc, we get [refer to appendix A]
2

w m  2 me c 2 2
 2 m c 2 2 2
e  
1 
The stopping power (-dE/dx):
dE 4 nz 2e 4 2me v 2 2
  ln[ ] (B)
dx 2
me v I
1
Here,  2c2=v2, 2
1  2
This is called the Bethe-Bloch equation for low energy heavy incoming charge
particle.
We discuss now the approximate derivation, without entering into complex
calculations.

We understand the physical meaning of each term in equation (B) and their
behavior as a function of incoming velocity.

The impact parameter b is the minimum distance between the incoming


particle and the target by which it is scattered.

We restrict ourselves to cases where only a small fraction of the incoming
kinetic energy is transferred to atomic electrons, so that the incoming particle
trajectory is not deviated.
Small values of b corresponds to close collisions,

Large values of b corresponds to distant collisions.

Both are important to find the average energy loss, energy staggering (i.e.
the energy loss distribution) and the most probable energy loss.

Assume that electron emerges after the particle passage.

 Transferred impulse I will be almost along the direction perpendicular to


the particle trajectory.
2
Coulomb force (F ) ze
F  2
b
Interaction time between two particles is inversely proportional to v and
directly proportional b. b
Interaction time 
v
Therefore, transferred momentum
ze 2 b ze 2
I    F dt  2 
b v bv
This estimate differs by a factor 2 from a more refined calculation [Fernow
(1986)] incorporating relativistic corrections. We can finally write
2 ze 2
I 
bv
The recoil momentum of electron is I.

The kinetic energy (small, no need to use relativistic formula) of electron

I 2 2 z 2e 4
w 
2 me me b 2 v 2

Distant collision: The shell binding energies of electrons have to be taken


into account.

Close collision: Very large transfer of energy along with the emission of fast
outgoing electrons (called -rays).

As the kinetic energy of the -ray increases, the emission angle decreases.
Fast -rays are emitted close to the particle trajectory.

2mec4 p2 cos2 
Ek 
[(mec2  p2c2  m2c4 )  p2c2 cos2  ]
Energy transferred to recoiling nuclei can be neglected with respect to the
energy of recoiling electrons.

If the interaction occurs with a nucleus of charge Ze and mass mA,

2Zze2 2Z2z2e4
I A  wA 
bv mAb2v2

WA Zme The impact parameter is almost


 same for the electron and the nucleus.
W mA
For hydrogen (Z=1) the ratio is  5.4410-4
Pb (Z=82): The ratio is 2.17 10-4
The no. of electrons encountered by the particle along a path dx at impact
parameter between b and b+db is n(2b)dbdx

2 z 2e 4 bi
wb  2 2
n(2 b )dbdx
me b v Incoming particle
db

Energy lost by the particle per unit path becomes:


b
dE dEb max 4 nz 2e 4 db
    
dx dx b me v 2 b
min

4 nz 2e 4 bmax
 2
ln( ) (C)
me v bmin
bmax can be estimated.

Collision time  cannot exceed the typical time period associated with the
bound electrons, namely, 1
 ( )

In relativistic mechanics, the maximum electric field strength is contracted


by the Lorentz factor ,
collision time,   ( bmax ) 1
I  h
 v
v  Here, I: Mean excitation energy,
bmax 
I
bmin can be estimated by the extent to which the classical treatment can be
employed.
h
2bmin 
Pecm
Impact parameter should be roughly half of de Broglie wavelength of the
electron in the C. M. frame of the interaction.
Pecm: electron momentum in the C.M.
h
Pecm  me v  me c bmin 
(2me c )
Since me<<m, the electron velocity in C.M is opposite and equal in absolute
value to that of the incoming particle v
dE 4 nz 2e 4 v h 2me c
  2
ln[( )( )]
dx me v I h
2 nz 2e 4 2me 2v 2 2
 2
ln( )
me v I
Finally, using the value of the maximum energy transfer wm, we get:
dE 2 nz 2e 4 2 me v 2 w m 2
  2
ln[ 2 2
) ]
dx me v I (1   )

The energy-loss formula shows that the logarithmic term


increases quadratically with  = (v/c).

1/bmin increases with .

bmax increases with .

The term 2 2:

•Derived in the quantum treatment of the energy loss by collisions of a heavy,


spin 0 incident particle.

•Spin plays an important role when the transferred energy is almost equal to
the incoming energy (occurs with limited statistical probability).
Therefore, as the incoming particle energy increases, -rays are emitted
more energetically along the particle trajactory.

Mean excitation potential


I  9.1Z (1+1.9  10-2/3)10-6 [MeV]

Discussion:

For low  value, (-dE/dx) decreases as  increases (see the coefficient term)
in the energy loss formula.

There is a minimum, beyond which energy loss increases with  due to


logarithmic term.
Elastic collisions:(incident particles is a heavy charged particle)

Let us assume for the sake of definiteness that the charged particle is a
proton.
If the proton collides with a nucleus, it will transfer some of its energy to the
nucleus and its direction will be changed.
Proton is much lighter than nucleus, the collision will cause little energy loss.
1 4mM
Emax  mv 2 ( 2
)
2 (m  M )
m:mass of a proton, M:mass of the nucleus.
For m<<M, 1 2 4m
Emax  mv ( );
2 M

For M, no energy loss.


The proton will lose little energy but its direction can be changed
completely, it can even bounce backwards.

In collisions with electrons, a large amount of energy can be transferred.

As a result, most of the energy loss of the proton is due to collisions with the
electrons, and most of the change of direction is due to the collisions with
nuclei.

Most of electrons receive small amount of energy. However, some acquire


sufficient energy to travel macroscopic distances in matter.

The emitted high-energy electrons (-rays) have sufficient energy to excite


or ionize atoms and produce further electrons.
Plot is created using Bethe-Bloch equation
2 nz 2e4 2 2 2 Z 1
2
 2 N Amee re ( z  2
)
mev A 
 z2Z
 0.1535 2
( MeV / cm)
A

where, classical electron radius


e2
re 
me c 2
(Below the minimum energy loss
point)
dE z2
 2
dx 

Above the minimum, the


logarithmic term gives the slow rise
almost energy independent value.
This value is approximately same for
all the particles with unit charge.
For electrons with energy of more than 100 keV, the velocity is close to the
velocity of light (1), and the energy loss is about 2 MeV/cm multiplied by
the density of the medium.

For -particles the velocity is much less than velocity of light, energy loss is
much larger.

Bethe-Bloch equation is valid only if the velocity of the particle is


much larger than the velocity of electrons in the atoms. For -particles, this
condition is usually not satisfied.
Velocity of electron in atoms 1%
velocity of light. For charged
particle of velocity much less than
this, the energy loss increases,
reaches a maximum value and then
decreases following Bethe-Bloch
equation.
Range:
Since particles lose energy when travelling in
a medium, they will eventually have lost all its
kinetic energy and came to rest. Bragg peak
The distance travelled by the particle is called
range.
As the particle penetrates the medium the
energy loss per unit length will change. The
energy loss of a particle as a function of its
distance of penetration is shown in the figure.
The energy loss increases towards the end of
range.
Close to end it reaches a maximum and then
abruptly drops to zero. The peak is called
‘Bragg peak’.
All the particles with a given kinetic energy do
not have exactly the same range. This is due to
the statistical nature of the energy loss
process. These are fluctuations in the range
called ‘’range straggling.
Questions

Why the energy loss increases with depth ?


The reason for Bragg peak ?
For the given particle energy, (comparison of
proton and -particle), why proton range is
higher than that of -particle range ?
In the range-energy plot, the slope of the
curve for -particle becomes less and less as
compared to that for proton with increase in
energy.

Range in Si for proton


and -particle
Appendix A
Relativistic Mechanics: Special theory of relativity

Postulates:

1: The laws of physics are the same in all inertial frames.

2: The speed of light is constant in all frames.


Lorentz transformation

x '   ( x  vt )

y y'  y
z'  z
 
c c vx
t '   (t  2 )
c
O´ x´
O x where ,
  1 / (1   2 )

z

 Linear momentum p of a point mass mr. 
   v
p  mr v;   1
m r   m0 c
m0 : rest mass
1
  1
2
 Total energy E 2  m02c 4  p 2c 2 1 v
c2
 m02c 4  ( m0 )2  2c 4
=mrc2
The kinetic energy is given by Ek= E-m0c2
      E ' E E '  
p  p '   0 ( 0 . p '  ) ;   (   0 . p ')
 1 c c c

t= 

: time interval elapsed in which the particle is at rest.



E ', p ': energy and momentum in the original frame.

Unprimed frame moves with velocity:   0c.

t: time measured in a frame which moves with velocity   c w.r. to the
particle.
Two-body scattering


Incident particle: m, p

Target particle at rest: me P’’ 


p
(Masses are the rest mass)
Scattered Incoming particle
electron P’

Kinetic energy of electron

E k  me c 2  p '2 c 2  me2c 4 (1)

 2 ( Ek  me c 2 )2  me2c 4 (2)
p' 
c2
Energy conservation

 (3)
p2c2  m2c4  mec2  p''2 c2  m2c4  Ek  mec2

p''2 c2  m2c4  p2c2  m2c4  Ek


Momentum conservation   
p ''  p  p'

p''2  p2  p'2  2 pp'cos

Ek p2c2  m2c4   Ek mec2  pc cos {( Ek  mec2 )2  me2c4 } (4)


2me c 4 p 2 cos 2 
Ek 
( me c 2  p 2c 2  m 2c 4 )2  4 p 2c 2 cos 2 

Ek2  2 Ek me c 2
pc cos  me c 2  p 2c 2  m 2 c 4
Ek2 (5)

Ek is the energy transferred in the interaction.

Maximum energy transferred ‘wm’ is for  = 0.


p 2c 2 (6)
wm  2
1 1 m
[ me c 2  ( )c 2  p 2c 2  m 2c 4 ]
2 2 me
The incoming particle energy Ei is:
Ei  m c 2  p 2 c 2  m 2c 4
Equation (6) can be rewritten as
2 2 2 me 2 me 1 (7)
wm  2me c   [1  ( )  2 ]
m m

If m>>me and p>>m2c/me (sufficiently high energy)

wm  pc  Ei

(In the extreme relativistic case, a massive particle can transfer all its energy
to the target electron)