Positrons are in wide use in medical imaging through the use of PET scans. While this is a relatively mature technology, there is still a poor understanding of some fundamental aspects, such as the amount of radiation damage induced during a PET scan. There are a number of different experiments that can be performed using the equipment available both at the ANU and with our international colleagues that may be able to help improve the use of this important medical tool.
Positron scattering measurements can be performed at the ANU positron beam lab, with biomolecules as the target. This ties in with a collaboration between Australian and international research teams on modelling positron transport and interactions in human tissues. The cross sections measured in this part of the project will be critical to developing physically realistic models of radiation damage.
Additionally, there are other experiments that will be undertake to validate the output of such transport calculations, in particular using facilities developed at AIST in Tsukuba, Japan, where there are plans to measure positron trasnport in liquid water. This challenging experiment is only possible thanks to new developments allowing the positron beam to be taken out of the vacuum system.
The third aspect of this project is to do experiments at the PET scanner at the Canberra Hospital, using new ideas that have the potential to improve the contrast of this imaging technique. This aspect of the project is commercially sensitive, so please contact Dr. James Sullivan for further details.