Radiation Hardness of dSiPM Sensors in a Proton Therapy Radiation Environment

Diblen, F., Buitenhuis, T., Solf, T., Rodrigues, P., van der Graaf, E., van Goethem, M-J., Brandenburg, S. & Dendooven, P., Jul-2017, In : IEEE Transactions on Nuclear Science. 64, 7, p. 1891-1896 6 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

In vivo verification of dose delivery in proton therapy by means of positron emission tomography (PET) or prompt gamma imaging is mostly based on fast scintillation detectors. The digital silicon photomultiplier (dSiPM) allows excellent scintillation detector timing properties and is thus being considered for such verification methods. We present here the results of the first investigation of radiation damage to dSiPM sensors in a proton therapy radiation environment. Radiation hardness experiments were performed at the AGOR cyclotron facility at the KVI-Center for Advanced Radiation Technology, University of Groningen. A 150-MeV proton beam was fully stopped in a water target. In the first experiment, bare dSiPM sensors were placed at 25 cm from the Bragg peak, perpendicular to the beam direction, a geometry typical for an in situ implementation of a PET or prompt gamma imaging device. In the second experiment, dSiPM-based PET detectors containing lutetium yttrium orthosilicate scintillator crystal arrays were placed at 2 and 4 cm from the Bragg peak, perpendicular to the beam direction; resembling an in-room PET implementation. Furthermore, the experimental setup was simulated with a Geant4-based Monte Carlo code in order to determine the angular and energy distributions of the neutrons and to determine the 1-MeV equivalent neutron fluences delivered to the dSiPM sensors. A noticeable increase in dark count rate (DCR) after an irradiation with about 108 1-MeV equivalent neutrons/cm(2) agrees with observations by others for analog SiPMs, indicating that the radiation damage occurs in the single photon avalanche diodes and not in the electronics integrated on the sensor chip. It was found that in the in situ location, the DCR becomes too large for successful operation after the equivalent of a few weeks of use in a proton therapy treatment room (about 5x10(13) protons). For PET detectors in an in-room setup, detector performance was unchanged even after an irradiation equivalent to three years of use in a treatment room (3 x 10(15) protons).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1891-1896
Number of pages6
JournalIEEE Transactions on Nuclear Science
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul-2017


  • Digital SiPM, in vivo verification, positron emission tomography, proton therapy, radiation damage, radiation hardness, SILICON PHOTOMULTIPLIERS, RANGE VERIFICATION, DAMAGE, PET, BEAMS

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