Microanalytical techniques for boron analysis using the 10B(n,alpha)7Li reaction

Med Phys. Jan-Feb 1986;13(1):50-6. doi: 10.1118/1.595962.


In order to predict the efficacy of boronated compounds for neutron capture therapy (NCT), it is mandatory that the boron concentration in tissues be known. Various techniques for measurement of trace amounts of boron (1-100 ppm) are available, including chemical and physical procedures. Experience has shown that, with the polyhedral boranes and carboranes in particular, the usual colorimetric and spark emission spectroscopic methods are not reliable. Although these compounds may be traced with additional radiolabels, direct physical detection of boron by nondestructive methods is clearly preferable. Boron analysis via detection of the prompt-gamma ray from the 10B(n, alpha)7Li reaction has been shown to be a reliable technique. Two prompt-gamma facilities developed at Brookhaven National Laboratory are described. One, at the 60-MW high flux beam reactor, uses sophisticated beam extraction techniques to enhance thermal neutron intensity and reduce fast neutron and gamma contamination. The other was constructed at Brookhaven's 5-MW medical research reactor and uses conventional shielding and electronics to provide an "on-line" boron analysis facility adjacent to beams designed for NCT, thus satisfying one of the requisites for clinical application of this procedure. Technical restrictions attendant upon the synthesis and testing of boronated biomolecules often require the measurement of trace amounts of boron in extremely small (mg) samples. A track-etching technique capable of detecting ng amounts of boron in mg liquid or cell samples is described. Thus it is possible to measure the boron content in small amounts (mg samples) of antibodies, or boron uptake in cells grown in tissue culture.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy, Needle
  • Boron / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen / analysis
  • Isotopes
  • Lithium
  • Microchemistry
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neutrons
  • Sodium / analysis
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Isotopes
  • Hydrogen
  • Lithium
  • Sodium
  • Boron