Medical Accelerator

Two important applications of medical accelerators are to produce radio pharmaceuticals for cancer diagnostic and to treat cancers by radiation therapy. When used as a production tool for diagnosis, a dedicated accelerator system creates radioactive isotopes to be used as a contrast agent to enhance medical imaging of cancerous cells. When used as a treatment tool, accelerator facilities produce a beam that is used to irradiate and destroy tumors cells.

Application requirements

  • Resistance against ionizing radiation environment

  • Remote electronics for dry pumps and turbopumps

  • Highest reliability and long service intervals

Vacuum technology gives cancer patients hope

How does it work?

In radiotherapy, the beam produced by the accelerator is used to damage the cancerous cells. Several technologies of accelerators have been developed, depending on the type of treatment: Conventional X-ray (high energy photon) accelerators are commonly used in radiation therapy, but drawback of this technology is that the X-rays can potentially harm healthy cells in surrounding tissue as well. Electron accelerators are commonly used to treat tumors near the surface of the skin. Hadron therapy allows delivering the radiation in a highly precise manner when it comes to destroy tumor cells. The accelerators form a beam that consists of charged particles (like protons or carbon). The main advantage of this technology is that the depth of the maximum energy deposition can be adjusted to the depth of the tumor. This reduces side effects due to a reduction of the radiation dose in healthy tissues.

Vacuum requirements

Linear (also called Linacs) or cyclotron accelerators and related beam transport lines require combination of electric and magnetic fields, as well as a high or ultra-high vacuum, in order to produce reliable, flexible and accurate radiation beams. Operating pressure inside a medical accelerator can vary between 10-5 to 10-8 hPa. High vacuum is commonly generated by turbopumps backed by dry pumps or rotary vane pumps.

Product portfolio

Due to the highly ionized radiation environment, remote electronics and radiation resistant gauges should be used. Pfeiffer Vacuum has developed the perfect solution for medical accelerators:

HiPace turbopumps and ACP primary dry pumps are available with remote electronics. In some cases depending on the requirements, electronics modules can be installed up to 100 m away from the pumps. When needed the pumps are also customized to withstand the radiation environment. When dry pumps are not required, our two-stage rotary vane pumps of the DuoLine Series can be used. For accurate total pressure measurements, our ModulLine Series without embedded electronics is the perfect solution. In addition, as a total solution provider, we can also provide customized beam line chambers and ions sources for Hadron therapy.