Development of a laser-driven proton accelerator for cancer therapy

C. M. Ma, I. Veltchev, E. Fourkal, J. S. Li, W. Luo, J. Fan, T. Lin, A. Pollack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

58 Scopus citations


Recent advances in laser technology have made proton (light ion) acceleration possible using laser-induced plasmas. In this work, we report our work for the last few years on the investigation of a new proton therapy system for radiation oncology, which employs laser-accelerated protons. If successfully developed, the new system will be compact, cost-effective, and capable of delivering energy-and intensity-modulated proton therapy (EIMPT). We have focused our research on three major aspects: (1) target design for laser-proton acceleration, (2) system design for particle/energy selection and beam collimation, and (3) dosimetric studies on the use of laser-accelerated protons for cancer therapy. We have performed particle-in-cell (PIC) simulations to investigate optimal target configurations for proton/ion acceleration. We also performed Monte Carlo simulations to study the beam characteristics and the feasibility of using such beams for cancer treatment. Since laser-accelerated protons have broad energy and angular distributions, which are not suitable for radiotherapy applications directly, we have designed a compact particle selection and beam collimating system for EIMPT beam delivery. We also proposed a new gantry design to make the whole system compact to retrofit existing linac vaults. We have compared Monte Carlo calculated dose distributions using X-ray IMRT and laser-proton EIMPT. Our results show that EIMPT using laser protons produces superior target coverage and much reduced critical structure dose and integral dose compared to X-ray IMRT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)639-646
Number of pages8
JournalLaser Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Instrumentation
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

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  • Cite this

    Ma, C. M., Veltchev, I., Fourkal, E., Li, J. S., Luo, W., Fan, J., Lin, T., & Pollack, A. (2006). Development of a laser-driven proton accelerator for cancer therapy. Laser Physics, 16(4), 639-646.