Design of a wall-less proportional counter for microdosimetry in nanometer dimensions
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Knowledge of energy deposition in biological cells at nanometer dimensions is essential to understand the biological effects of radiation. This work has resulted in the development of a practical tool to study such energy deposition experimentally, at nanometer dimensions. The main contribution of this research is the design of a cylindrical wall-less proportional counter of 1mm height by 1mm diameter. A wall-less detector (also called grid-walled detector) overcomes the so-called ??wall effect??, an experimental artifact that introduces distortions in the radiation energy measurements. An important feature of this detector that distinguishes it from other detectors is its modular design. This allows the detector to be repaired or modified, when necessary, without having to completely disassemble it. Novel design techniques were adopted resulting in a functional detector that can simulate cellular sites as small as 10 nanometers, approximately the size of many molecules in the cell. The detector was tested with a 1 microcurie sealed Am-241 source, which primarily emits monoenergetic alpha particles of energy 5.57 MeV. Microdosimetric spectra analysis for alpha particles and its delta rays from Am-241 were performed for simulated site sizes ranging from 500nm to 10nm. Initial studies to validate the detector design have confirmed good detector performance. We believe this work will serve as a vital platform for bridging the experimentally measured energy spectra to the biological effects of alpha and delta radiations.