Interaction of Radiation
with matter
Dr. Ibrahim Idris Suliman
Sudan Atomic Energy Commission
2
Interaction of Radiation
Charged particles (e, p, o)
directly ionizing radiation
Uncharged particles (, n)
indirectly ionizing radiation
3
1. Light charged particles (electrons)
Excitation and ionization of atoms in absorber material
(atomic effects)
interaction with electrons in material (collision, scatter)
deceleration by Coulomb interaction (Bremsstrahlung)
2. Heavy charged particles (Z>1)
excitation and ionization of atoms in absorber
material (atomic effects)
Coulomb interaction with nuclei in material (collision,
scatter) (long range forces)
4
Interaction electrons
with matter
EnergyLoss Mechanisms
(a) Collisions with electrons
Ionization of atoms
Excitation of atoms
(b) Radiative losses
Bremsstrahlung
(c) Could scatter elastically at low energies
5
Interaction electrons
with matter
Due to a small mass of an electron or positron:
They can transfer large fraction of their energy in a
single collision
Can rapidly change their direction after a collision
Rather than Range (difficult to define), keep in mind
their pathway
After loosing their kinetic energy, positrons will
annihilate with electrons and produce 2 gamma rays.
6
Charged particles
Stopping power, S
Linear stopping S for a charged particle in a
given absorber is defined as the differential
energy lost for that particle within the material
divided by the corresponding differential path
length
(3.1)
dE
S
dl
=
7
S = linear stopping power
dE = energy loss
including: electronic, radiative and nuclear
dl = path length
unit: J m
1
or MeV cm
1
1
/ (3.2)
dE
S
dl
=
8
Charged particles
Total mass stopping power
S = linear stopping power
= density
dE = energy loss
including: electronic, radiative and nuclear
dl = path length
unit: J m2 kg1 or MeV cm2 g1
9
STOPPING POWER
The stopping power is defined as the kinetic
energy loss by an electron or positron per unit
path length due to collisions or emitted radiation:
10
 electronic stopping ++
 radiative stopping +
(only for e, for E > 1 MeV)
 nuclear stopping 
Relative importance
( ) ( )
1 1
/ / / (3.3)
el rad
el rad
dE dE
S S S
dl dl
   
= + = +
 
\ . \ .
11
Collision vs bremsstrahlung
Energy lost is two process, collision and radiative.
For heavy charged particles the radiative part has
no contribution and it is only the collision part which
plays and important role.
For electrons the relative importance of the both
forms of energy loss can be approximated by the
flowing conversion:
( / )
(3.5)
( / ) 700
rad
cl
S EZ
S
=
12
Where E is the energy of the electron in MeV And Z
the atomic number of the material.
Bremsstrahlung
When monoenergetic electrons fall on absorber
material, a fraction of electron energy is converted to
radiation (xrays). This fraction is denoted with letter
g and it depend on the energy of the falling electron
and the atomic number Z of absorber material.
For light materials and E>10 MeV. The fraction g can
be calculated from the empirical relation:
4
0
6.10 (3.6) g ZE
=
13
Bremsstrahlung
4
2.10 (3.7)
a
g ZE
=
14
Where Z is the atomic number of the absorber
material and E
0
is the energy of the falling electron in
MeV.
For xrays emitted from radionuclide emitting
radiation with maximum energy E
a
, it is valid:
15
High LET radiation: oparticles
Low LET radiation: electrons, photons
LET L S
el
= =
Linear Energy Transfer LET
Range of electrons
There are many formulas for calculation of the
reduced range as a function of energy E ( for 
spectrum, the maximum energy E
m
is used).
1.265 0.0954ln
0.412
E
R E
=
0.542 0.133 R E =
16
0.5 R E =
(0.02 E 2.0) (2.9)
(0.6 E 20) (2.10)
(E > 0.6 MeV) (2.11)
Where the range R is expressed in g cm
2
and
the energy in MeV
17
Interaction of Heavy Charged
Particles with Matter
18
Interaction of heavy charged
particles with matter
Heavy charged particles all charged particles
other than the electron or positron
Include: muons (M = 207 m
e
), pions (M = 270 m
e
),
kaons (M= 967 m
e
), protons (M = 1836 m
e
), alpha
particles, deuterons, tritons, fission fragments,
other heavy ions
EnergyLoss Mechanisms
(a) collisions with electrons (b) radiative
Ionization of atoms
Excitation of atoms
19
Sketch of alpha particles paths in a
medium
Can transfer only a small fraction of its energy in a
single collision with an electron. Thus, heavy
charged particles
travel almost in straight lines (straight line trajectory)
lose energy almost continuously in small amounts
have a very small range
20
Ionization
21
Maximum Energy Transfer in a
Single Collision
Before After
Conservation of total kinetic energy and momentum:
22
Maximum Energy Transfer in a
Single Collision
From the first two equations we obtain
V
1
= (Mm)/(M+m) V
and the maximum energy transfer is given by
Qmax = MV
 MV
1
= E[4mM/(M+m)]
E = mV
2
/2, the initial kinetic energy of incident particle
23
Maximum Energy Transfer in a
Single Collision
For incoming electron:
Q
max
= E, if M = m
e
For muon
Q
max
= [4m
e
(207 m
e
)/(208 m
e
)
2
]E
Q
max
= 0.0192 E
24
Maximum Energy Transfer in a
Single Collision
25
STOPPING POWER
Stopping power is defined as the average energy loss of a
charged particle per unit path length:
where is the probability of collision per unit path
length, and Q
ave
is the average energy loss per collision.
The mass stopping power is given as:
26
Bethe Formula
for stopping power
Where
k
o
= 8.99 x 10
9
[N m
C1]
Z atomic number of heavy particle e  electron charge
n number of electron per unit volume m electron rest mass
c speed of light in vacuum
V/c speed of the particle relative to c
I mean excitation energy of the medium
27
MEAN EXCITATION ENERGY OF
THE MEDIUM
For a compound or mixture, the stopping power can be calculated by
simpling adding the separate contributions from the individual
constituent elements:
where i corresponds to an individual element.
28
Stopping power of water for
various heavy charged particles
29
Bragg Curve
A curve showing the average number of ions per unit
distance along ( or
a specific ionization) a beam of initially monoenergetic
ionizing
particles, usually alpha particles, passing through a gas.
Also known as a
Bragg ionization curve.
30
Energy Deposition of Alpha particles
Specific ionization  SI
SI = (dE/dx)/E
I
Number of ion pairs per unit path length
E
I,air
= 36 eV/ip
E
I,tissue
= 22 eV/ip
31
RANGE
The range of a charged particle is the distance it travels
before coming to rest.
For a particles in air, the following approximate empirical
relations exist:
32
RANGE
The ranges of two heavy particles with the same initial speed
could be determined from the following ratio:
The range of other charged particles in terms of proton range:
For example, the range of alpha particle from
214
Po
decay
(E=7.69 MeV) is
in air about 6cm
in tissue about 0.007 cm
Range of alpha particles and protons
The range of particles in air in standard condition
(STP), R
a
() expressed in cm and for initial energy E
(MeV), is given by the following empirical formula.
3
( ) (0.005 0.285)
a
R E E o = +
3
( ) 0.3
a
R E o =
33
(cm) (2.12)
The eq. (2.12) can be written in more simple
form
(cm) (2.13)
Range of alpha particles and protons
34
The range of particles in materials other than air
can be calculated by making use of Bragg Kleeman
Law
4
( ) 3.2 10
a
A
AR
R o
=
(cm) (2.14)
Where in g cm
3
and R
a
in cm
Range of alpha particles and protons
For a mixture of atoms with relative atomic
masss A
1
, A
2
, .. And weighted fractions f
1
, f
2
,.
A can be written as:
The range of protons in air ,R
a
(p) can be given by
the following equation:
1 1 2 2
...
mixture
A f A f A = + +
1.8
( ) 100
9.3
a
E
R p
 
=

\ .
35
(2.15)
(cm) (2.16)
36
Braggs curve
0 5 0 1 00 1 5 0 2 00 2 5 0
Depth (mm)
0
2 0
4 0
6 0
8 0
1 00
R
e
l
a
t
i
v
e
e
n
e
r
g
y
i
m
p
a
r
t
e
d
(
%
)
17 4 MeV pr ot on s in wat er
exper iment
calculat ion
37
Irradiation of a tumor in the brain
12
C particle beams at GSI
Interaction of photons with
matter
38
39
fluence particle
n interactio of y probabilit
= o
Cross section (1)
SI unit: m
2
special unit: barn (b)
1 b = 10
28
m
2
40
Alternative definition:
1. Cross section may be bigger/smaller than the cross section of
the atomic nucleus
2. Type of interaction should be specified (
n,p
or
,e
)
N partices per cm
2
dx
Cross section (2)
2 m per centres n interactio of number
n interactio specific a to subjected particles incident the of fraction
= o
41
Interactions of photons
interaction
Energy loss
Atomic
electron
Nucleus Electric field
of the nucleus
100% Fotoelectric
Effect
Photonuclear
reactions
Pair
production
0%<AE < 100% Compton
Effect
 
~ 0% Coherent
Scattering
 
42
Photoelectric effect (1)
Entire energy transfer from
photon to an atomic electron
K
L
e

hv
3
4
,
v
t o
h
Z
e
=
Cross section
Energy photoelectron:
b e
E h E = v
43
K
L
e

hv
Fraction emitted Xrays (scattered
radiation)
t
K
= cross section photoelectric effect in K shell
e
K
= fluorescence yield K shell
E
K
= mean bindings energy K electron
E
K
v
o
e
v t
t
e
v t
t
h h
E
h
E
L
L L
K
K K
= + + ...
_ _
Photoelectric effect (2)
44
Compton effect (1)
hv
hv
E
e
u
Energy conservation:
Energy Compton electron:
Angular correlation:
) cos 1 ( 1
) cos 1 (
) (
2
2
2
u
v
u
v
+
=
c m
h
c m
h
E
e
e
e
' hv E hv
e
+ =
Partial energy transfer
to a free electron

.

\



.

\

+ =
2
tan 1 ) cot(
2
u v
c m
h
e
45
hv
hv
E
e
u
Angular distribution of the
scattered photons
0
90
180
270
0 1 2
1 0 Me V
1 Me V
0.1 Me V
0.01 Me V
r i cht ing invallend
f ot on
Compton effect (2)
46
hv
hv
E
e
Cross section:
Fraction of the energy hv transferred to compton electrons:
v
v
v
h
h
h
E
f
e
e
____ __
' ,
'
1 = =
5 , 0
' ,
v
o o
h
Z
C e
=
Compton effect (3)
47
Pair production
Conversion of the photon into an (e

,e
+
) pair
hv
e

e
+
Threshold energy: 2mc
2
= 1,02 MeV
Scattered strongly forwards
Cross section:
v k o
h Z
e e
2
,
=
+
hv
mc
f
e e
2
,
2
1 =
+
/
( c
m
2
g
 1
)
pair pr oduct ion /
Coher ent e scat .
c o h
/
54
Interactions of photons with air
10
1
10
2
10
3
10
4
10
5
Energy (k eV)
10
 3
10
 2
10
 1
10
0
10
1
/
(
c
m
2
g

1
)