Characterization of a flexible a-Si:H detector for in vivo dosimetry in therapeutic x-ray beams

Med Phys. 2024 Jun;51(6):4489-4503. doi: 10.1002/mp.17013. Epub 2024 Mar 3.


Background: The increasing use of complex and high dose-rate treatments in radiation therapy necessitates advanced detectors to provide accurate dosimetry. Rather than relying on pre-treatment quality assurance (QA) measurements alone, many countries are now mandating the use of in vivo dosimetry, whereby a dosimeter is placed on the surface of the patient during treatment. Ideally, in vivo detectors should be flexible to conform to a patient's irregular surfaces.

Purpose: This study aims to characterize a novel hydrogenated amorphous silicon (a-Si:H) radiation detector for the dosimetry of therapeutic x-ray beams. The detectors are flexible as they are fabricated directly on a flexible polyimide (Kapton) substrate.

Methods: The potential of this technology for application as a real-time flexible detector is investigated through a combined dosimetric and flexibility study. Measurements of fundamental dosimetric quantities were obtained including output factor (OF), dose rate dependence (DPP), energy dependence, percentage depth dose (PDD), and angular dependence. The response of the a-Si:H detectors investigated in this study are benchmarked directly against commercially available ionization chambers and solid-state diodes currently employed for QA practices.

Results: The a-Si:H detectors exhibit remarkable dose linearities in the direct detection of kV and MV therapeutic x-rays, with calibrated sensitivities ranging from (0.580 ± 0.002) pC/cGy to (19.36 ± 0.10) pC/cGy as a function of detector thickness, area, and applied bias. Regarding dosimetry, the a-Si:H detectors accurately obtained OF measurements that parallel commercially available detector solutions. The PDD response closely matched the expected profile as predicted via Geant4 simulations, a PTW Farmer ionization chamber and a PTW ROOS chamber. The most significant variation in the PDD performance was 5.67%, observed at a depth of 3 mm for detectors operated unbiased. With an external bias, the discrepancy in PDD response from reference data was confined to ± 2.92% for all depths (surface to 250 mm) in water-equivalent plastic. Very little angular dependence is displayed between irradiations at angles of 0° and 180°, with the most significant variation being a 7.71% decrease in collected charge at a 110° relative angle of incidence. Energy dependence and dose per pulse dependence are also reported, with results in agreement with the literature. Most notably, the flexibility of a-Si:H detectors was quantified for sample bending up to a radius of curvature of 7.98 mm, where the recorded photosensitivity degraded by (-4.9 ± 0.6)% of the initial device response when flat. It is essential to mention that this small bending radius is unlikely during in vivo patient dosimetry. In a more realistic scenario, with a bending radius of 15-20 mm, the variation in detector response remained within ± 4%. After substantial bending, the detector's photosensitivity when returned to a flat condition was (99.1 ± 0.5)% of the original response.

Conclusions: This work successfully characterizes a flexible detector based on thin-film a-Si:H deposited on a Kapton substrate for applications in therapeutic x-ray dosimetry. The detectors exhibit dosimetric performances that parallel commercially available dosimeters, while also demonstrating excellent flexibility results.

Keywords: flexible dosimetry; hydrogenated amorphous silicon; radiation detection.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Hydrogen
  • In Vivo Dosimetry
  • Radiometry* / instrumentation
  • Silicon*
  • X-Ray Therapy / instrumentation


  • Silicon
  • Hydrogen