Whilst Monte Carlo (MC) simulations of proton energy deposition have been well-validated at the macroscopic level, their microscopic validation remains lacking. Equally, no gold-standard yet exists for experimental metrology of individual proton tracks. In this work we compare the distributions of stochastic proton interactions simulated using the TOPAS-nBio MC platform against confocal microscope data for Al2O3:C,Mg fluorescent nuclear track detectors (FNTDs). We irradiated mm3 FNTD chips inside a water phantom, positioned at seven positions along a pristine proton Bragg peak with a range in water of 12 cm. MC simulations were implemented in two stages: (1) using TOPAS to model the beam properties within a water phantom and (2) using TOPAS-nBio with Geant4-DNA physics to score particle interactions through a water surrogate of Al2O3:C,Mg. The measured median track integrated brightness (IB) was observed to be strongly correlated to both (i) voxelized track-averaged linear energy transfer (LET) and (ii) frequency mean microdosimetric lineal energy, , both simulated in pure water. Histograms of FNTD track IB were compared against TOPAS-nBio histograms of the number of terminal electrons per proton, scored in water with mass-density scaled to mimic Al2O3:C,Mg. Trends between exposure depths observed in TOPAS-nBio simulations were experimentally replicated in the study of FNTD track IB. Our results represent an important first step towards the experimental validation of MC simulations on the sub-cellular scale and suggest that FNTDs can enable experimental study of the microdosimetric properties of individual proton tracks.
- Monte Carlo simulation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging