Heavy-ion beams have significant advantages over conventional radiotherapy in the treatment of tumours. Unlike photons, heavy ions deposit the majority of their energy near the end of their trajectory at the Bragg peak, such that the tissue both prior to and after the tumour is largely spared
The required energies for beams of 12C are typically 200-400 MeV/nucleon, depending on the depth of the tumour. At these energies, nuclear fragmentation reactions are very important. With 12C, nuclear reactions produce showers of lighter nuclei such as 6Li, 7Li and 9Be, in addition to copious numbers of protons, neutrons and alpha particles.
Nuclear reactions are also very common - for beams of 400 MeV/nucleon only 30% of the primary 12C reaches the tumour intact, the remaining 70% having undergone some nuclear reaction. Understanding these reactions is thus crucial to treatment planning and accurate modelling of dose distributions via Monte Carlo methods.
This project will investigate models of nuclear reactions relevant to hadron therapy applications. The student will have the opportunity to develop computer programs designed to model these complex processes, and benchmark the results against experimental data.