You are on page 1of 62

Radiation Physics

yDr Khaled Allouba

y An atom is neutral when the number of its protons is

equal to the number of its electrons y When the stable atom looses one or more of its electrons it becomes a positive ion y When the stable atom acquires or gain one or more electron it becomes a negative ion y Process of losing or acquiring electrons by a stable atom is called Ionization

y The process of transmission of energy through space and matter y It occurs either as: particulate radiation, or electromagnetic radiation y Particulate radiation consist of a nucleus or subatomic particles moving at high velocity. y Examples of particulate radiation is a alpha which is made of a helium nucleus one proton , one neutron , B beta radiation electrons emitted from radioactive nuclei, Cathode rays are high speed electrons produced by a manufacturer device X ray tubes .

Basic terminology
Radiation: It is the process of emission ,propagation and

transmission of energy in the form of waves.  Radiology: science that deal with diagnosis ,therapeutic and research application of high energy radiation. Roentgenology: science that deal with application of x ray on any field.  Radiograph: it is the image received on a dental film due to passage of the x ray through an object or body. Dental radiograph: A photographic image produced on film by the passage of x-rays through teeth and related structures. Dental radiography: The making of radiographs of the teeth and adjacent structures by the exposure of film to x-rays.

Discovery of X-Rays

image from Cathode Ray Tube Site image from Wolfram Research

y Wilhelm Roentgen (1895)

Bremsstrahlung Radiation

Cathode ray tube

Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen discovered the x-ray on November 8, 1895. Roentgen had experimented with the production of cathode rays (streams of electrons).  He used a vacuum tube, an electrical current, and special screens covered with a material that glowed (fluoresced) when exposed to radiation.  He made the following observations about cathode rays: the rays appeared as streams of colored light passing from one end of the tube to the other, the rays caused fluorescent screens to glow. Roentgen noticed a faint green glow coming from a nearby table. Roentgen observed that the distance between the tube and the screens was much greater than the distance cathode rays could travel. He realized that something from the tube was striking the screens and causing the glow.

He replaced the fluorescent screens with photographic plate. Roentgen proceeded to make the first radiograph of the human body; he placed his wifes hand on a photographic plate and exposed it to the unknown rays for 15 minutes. When roentgen developed the photographic plate, the outline of the bones in her hand could be seen. Roentgen named his discovery x-rays

Composition of Matter
Matter: Any thing that occupies space and has a mass and volume Matter can exert a force or can be acted on by a force Matter occurs either as solid , liquid or gas Matter occurs either as an element or compounds Atom is the basic unit of element

Composition of Matter
Atoms: Niels Bohr model of atomic structure 1913: Atomic structure is like the solar system The nucleus is the center of the atom sun Electrons planets revolve at high speed around the nucleus in different energy levels Electrons are negatively charged Protons are positively charges occupying the nucleus Neutrons are non charged particles found in the nucleus

An atom is composed of electrons (with a negative charge), protons (with a positive charge) and neutrons (no charge). The protons and neutrons are found in the nucleus of the atom and the electrons rotate (orbit) around the nucleus. The number of electrons equals the number of protons in an atom so that the atom has no net charge (electrically neutral). However, all the atoms in a given material will have the same number of electrons and protons.

This atom has 7 protons and 7 neutrons in the nucleus. There are 7 electrons orbiting around the nucleus.

protons neutrons electrons

The electrons are maintained in their orbits around the nucleus by two opposing forces.: The first of these, known as electrostatic force, is the attraction between the negative electrons and the positive protons. This attraction causes the electrons to be pulled toward the protons in the nucleus. In order to keep the electrons from dropping into the nucleus, The other force, known as centrifugal force, pulls the electrons away. The balance between these two forces keeps the electrons in orbit.

Electrostatic force is the attraction between the positive protons and negative electrons. Electrons in the orbit closest to the nucleus (the K-shell) will have a greater electrostatic force than will electrons in orbits further from the nucleus. Binding energy; this basically represents the amount of energy required to overcome the electrostatic force to remove an electron from its orbit. For our purposes, electrostatic force and binding energy are the same. The higher the atomic number of an atom (more protons), the higher the electrostatic force will be for all electrons in that atom.

Centrifugal force pulls the electrons away from the nucleus

Force needed to remove an electron from a certain energy level should exceed the electrostatic force and is called electron binding force or Ionization energy



The balance between electrostatic force and centrifugal force keeps the electrons in orbit around the nucleus

Atomic Number (Z): The number of protons in the nucleus of an atom. Neutron number (N): The number of the neutrons in the nucleus of an atom. Atomic mass number (A): Sum of the number of protons and neutrons in an atom (A=Z+N).

Ground state:atoms are electrically neutral because the number of positive charges(protons) is balanced by the number of negative charges (electrons). If an electron is removed, the atom is no longer neutral, but becomes positively charged and is referred to as a positive ion. The process of removing an electron from an atom and forming ion pair is called ionization. Such ionization requires sufficient energy to overcome the electrostatic force binding the electrons to the nucleus. When the stable atom acquires one or more electron it becomes a negative ion.

ionization potential: The minimum amount of energy that must be transferred to the least tightly bound orbital electron in order to remove it from the atom is called the ionization potential of the atom,

The ionization energies of orbital electrons nearest the nucleus of an atom are the greatest, and the ionization energies of outermost orbital electrons are the least.

If an electron is displaced from an inner shell to an outer shell (i.e. to a higher energy level), the atom remains neutral but is in an excited state. This process is called excitation. The unit of energy in the atomic system is the electron volt (eV), 1 eV= 1.6x 1019 joules.

Radiation is the transmission of energy through space and matter. It may occur in two forms: particulate and electromagnetic.

The process whereby certain unstable elements undergo spontaneous degeneration in an effort to attain a more balanced nuclear state. A substance is considered radioactive if it gives off energy in the form of particles or rays as a result of disintegration of atomic nuclei.

Ionizing Radiation
Radiation that is capable of producing ions by removing or adding an electron to an atom. Classified into two groups

Particulate radiation

Electromagnetic radiation

Ionizing Radiation
I-Particulate radiation
-Tiny particles of matter that posses mass and travel In straight lines and at high speed. -Particulate radiation transmit kinetic energy by means of their extremely fast-moving, small masses . Four types of particulate radiation are recognized: 1-Electrons: Classified as Beta particles or cathode rays . Beta particles: fast moving electrons emitted from the nucleus of radioactive atoms. Cathode rays: streams of high speed electrons but Originate in an x-ray tube.

2-Alpha particles: Are emitted from the nuclei of heavy metals and exist As two protons and neutrons without electrons. 3-Protons: Are accelerated particles, especially hydrogen nuclei, With a mass of 1 and a charge of 1. 4-Neutrons: Are accelerated particles with a mass of 1 and no electrical charge.

Relative penetrating ability of ionizing radiation in tissue

(Several layers of skin)

Beta Gamma


Electromagnetic Radiation
-Propagation of wave-like energy (without mass) through space or matter. -The energy that is propagated is accompanied by oscillating electric and magnetic fields positioned at right angles to one another hence the term electromagnetic. -These radiations are manmade or occur naturally ;examples include: Cosmic rays, X-ray, infrared light, ultraviolet, radiowaves, radar waves, tv waves, visible light, microwaves and gamma rays, travel at the speed of light (186,000 miles per second). They travel through space as both wave and particle.

Electromagnetic Radiation
Electromagnetic radiation can be classified as ionizing or nonionizing. Only high energy radiation are capable of ionization as cosmic rays, gamma rays and x-rays. Em. radiation is ionizing when it has sufficient energy to remove orbital electrons from an atom.

Quantum Theory of Ionization Radiation

Em radiation propagate in the form of bundles of energy called photons or quanta. These bundles of energy with no mass or wieght that move in straight line Each photon has the velocity of light and carries a specific amount of energy E measured in electron volt units which is the energy of electromagnetic radiation.

Wave theory
This theory characterizes electromagnetic radiation as waves and focus on the properties of:

-Velocity -Wavelength -Frequency

Refers to the speed of the wave. All electromagnetic radiations travel as waves or a continuous sequence of crests at the speed of light (3 x 108 meters per second or 186,000 miles per second) in a vacuum. They have a wave length ( ), frequency( ) and velocity. C= x

W F=3 W F=2 D

The wavelength (W) is the distance from the crest of one wave to the crest of the next wave. It determines the energy and penetrating power of the radiation, the shorter the wavelength the higher the energy and ability to penetrate matter, it is measured in nanometers for short W and meters for longer W. The frequency (F) is the number of waves in a given distance (D). If the distance between waves decreases (W becomes shorter), the frequency will increase. The top wave above has a shorter wavelength and a higher frequency than the wave below it.

Frequency and wavelength are inversely related; if the frequency of the wave is high, the wavelength will be short, and if the frequency is low, the wavelength will be long. The amount of energy an electromagnetic radiation possesses depends on the wavelength and frequency. Low frequency electromagnetic radiation will have ..

radio waves

tv visible waves light

x-rays gamma cosmic rays rays

Which of the above examples of electromagnetic radiation has the shortest wavelength? Cosmic rays Which of the above has the lowest frequency? Radio waves

Which of the above x-rays has the highest energy?
A: It has the shortest wavelength, highest frequency

Waves of the Electromagnetic Spectrum

y Electromagnetic Spectrum: The range of electromagnetic

waves when placed in order of increasing frequency








X-ray Energy
The energy of a wave of electromagnetic radiation represents the ability to penetrate an object. The higher the energy, the more easily the wave will pass through the object. The shorter the wavelength, the greater the energy will be and the higher the frequency, the greater the energy will be.

X-ray Characteristics

X-rays are high energy waves, with very short wavelengths, and travel at the speed of light. X-rays have no mass (weight) and no charge (neutral). You cannot see x-rays; they are invisible. X-rays travel in straight lines; they can not curve around a corner. An x-ray beam cannot be focused to a point; the x-ray beam diverges (spreads out) as it travels toward and through the patient. This is similar to a flashlight beam.

X-ray Characteristics (continued)

X-rays are differentially absorbed by the materials they pass through. More dense materials (like an amalgam restoration) will absorb more x-rays than less dense material (like skin tissue). This characteristic allows us to see images on an x-ray film. X-rays will cause certain materials to fluoresce (give off light). We use this property with intensifying screens used in extraoral radiography. X-rays can be harmful to living tissue. Because of this, you must keep the number of films taken to the minimum number needed to make a proper diagnosis.

Characteristics of X rays:
y Invisible , odorless , colorless and weightless rays y They can ionize matters y They propagate in space in form of waves y They have very short wave length Angstroms y Thy penetrate dark and opaque objects y They interact with the radiographic film the same

way light interacts with the photographic film y They can cause harmful effects on living tissues somatic and genetic effects

X-ray Machine
Extension arms

control panel

Tube head

X-ray Machine

2 3 1

X-ray equipment has three basic components:

(1) Control panel, which is plugged into an electrical outlet allows you to alter the duration of the x-ray beam (exposure time) and, on some x-ray machines, the intensity (energy) of the x-ray beam. (2) Extension arms, which allow for movement and positioning of the tubehead (3) X-ray tubehead, contains x-ray tube which produces the x-rays.

X-ray Machine Components

Control Panel
110, 220 line On-off switch Indicator light Exposure button Control device: (Time m A &KVP selector) X-ray Tube head Step-down transformer Step-up transformer Autotransformer X-ray Tube Oil

Control Panel

mA control

exposure time

kVp control

The control panel contains, -On- off switch -An indicator light -Exposure button -Control devices (time, kilovoltage kVp and milliamperage mA)

X-ray Tubehead

PID (cone)


The x-ray tubehead is attached to the extension arm so that it can rotate up and down (vertically; measured in degrees) and sideways (horizontally) to facilitate proper alignment of the x-ray beam. The PID (Position Indicating Device) is attached to the x-ray tubehead where the x-ray beam exits and it identifies the location of the x-ray beam. Some people refer to the PID as a cone; the PIDs on very old x-ray machines used to be coneshaped.

Tubehead Components
The x-ray tubehead is a tightly sealed heavy metal housing that contains x-ray tube that produces x-ray. It includes: 1-Metal housing : metal body of the tubehead that surrounds the x-ray tube and transformers and filled with oil. 2-Insulating oil: surrounds the x-ray tube and transformers inside it to prevent overheating. 3-Tubehead seal: or aluminum or leaded glass covering the tubehead, it seals the oil and act as a filter to the x-ray beam.

Tubehead Components
4-X-ray tube: the heart of the x-ray generating system, will Be discussed later. 5-Transformers: device that alters the voltage of incoming electricity. 6-Aluminum disks: or sheets of 0.5 mm aluminum that act as a filter to the x-ray beam. 7-Lead collimator: lead plate with central hole that fits directly over the opening of the metal housing , it restricts the size of the x-ray beam.

Tubehead Components
8-Position indicating device or cone: It extends from the opening of the metal housing of the tubehead. It aims and shapes the x-ray beam.
X-ray Tube head



X-ray Tube

Glass vacuum tube in which all of the air has been removed X-rays are produced in the x-ray tube, which is located in the x-ray tubehead. X-rays are generated when electrons from the filament cross the tube and interact with the target. The two main components of the x-ray tube are the cathode and the anode.

Leaded glass housing

X-ray Tube

Metal Housing

Insulating oil

Tube head seal

Unleaded glass window

Components parts of the x-ray tube 1- Leaded glass housing 2-Cathode 3-Anode

1-Leaded glass housing

Leaded glass vacuum tube that prevents x-ray from escaping In all directions except for on central area or window that permit X-ray beam to exit the tube and direct it toward the aluminum Disks, collimator and PID.


Focusing cup Filament (tungsten)

side view (cross-section)

front view (facing target)

The cathode is composed of a tungsten filament which is centered in a focusing cup. Electrons are produced by the filament (see next slide) and are focused on the target of the anode where the x-rays are produced. The focusing cup has a negative charge, like the electrons, and this helps direct the electrons to the target (focuses them; electrons can be focused, x-rays cannot).

Thermionic Emission
When you depress the exposure button, electricity flows through the filament in the cathode, causing it to get hot. The hot filament then releases electrons which surround the filament (thermionic emission). The hotter the filament gets, the greater the number of electrons that are released. (Click to depress exposure button and heat filament).

x-section hot of filament filament


side view

front view

Target Copper stem Target

The anode in the x-ray tube is composed of a tungsten target embedded in a copper stem. When electrons from the filament enter the target and generate x-rays, a lot of heat is produced. The copper helps to take some of the heat away from the target so that it doesnt get too hot.

Characteristics of tungsten material:

1-high atomic number (Z=74) 2-high melting point (3370 C) 3-low vapor pressure at the working temperature 4- Can be drawn into fine wire 5-Low thermal conductivity: so it is embedded in a copper stem which is a good thermal conductor, dissipates heat from the tungsten thus reducing the risk of target melting.

Line Focus Principle

The sharpness (detail) of images seen on a radiograph is influenced by the size of the focal spot (area in the target where x-rays are produced). The smaller the focal spot (target), the sharper the image of the teeth will be. During x-ray production, a lot of heat is generated. If the target is too small, it will overheat and burn up. In order to get a small focal spot, while maintaining an adequately large target , the line focus principle is used.

Line Focus Principle

Target (Anode) Cathode Apparent (effective) focal spot size Actual focal spot size


The target is at an angle (not perpendicular) to the electron beam from the filament (see above). Because of this angle, the x-rays that exit through the PID appear to come from a smaller focal spot (see next slide). Even though the actual focal spot (target) size is larger (to withstand heat buildup), the smaller size of the apparent focal spot provides the sharper image needed for a proper diagnosis.

X-ray Tube Components (continued)

1. Focusing cup: focuses electrons on target

2. Filament: releases electrons when heated 3. Electron stream: electrons cross from filament to target during length of exposure 4. Vacuum: no air or gases inside x-ray tube that might interact with electrons crossing tube 5. Target: x-rays produced when electrons strike target 6. Copper stem: helps remove heat from target 7. Leaded glass: Keeps x-rays from exiting tube in wrong direction 8. X-rays produced in target are emitted in all directions 9. Beryllium window: this non-leaded glass allows x-rays to pass through. The PID would be located directly in line with this window.

X-ray Tube Components

3 2 4 5 6

8 9

1. focusing cup 2. filament 3. electron stream 4. vacuum 5. target

6. copper stem 7. leaded glass 8. x-rays 9. beryllium window

(for description, see next slide)