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A.H. Dilip Kumara

B.Sc.(sp)Hons, M.Sc. Medical Physics
Senior Medical Physicist

Fundamental Physics of Radiology:

W.J. Meridith & J.R. Massay

Farr’s Physics for Medical Imaging

Penelope Allisy- Roberts
Jerry Williams
Christensen’s Physics of Diagnostic Radiology
Thomas S Curry, James E Dowdey, Robert C
The Physics of Radiology
Harold Elford Johns & John Robert Cunningham

The Physics of
Radiation Therapy Radiation Oncology Physics:
Faiz M. Khan A Handbook For Teachers And

Jane Dobbs, Ann
Barratt, Dan Ash
Radiotherapy Physics in Practice
by J. R. Williams ,D. I. Thwaites
Structure of Atom
History of the Atom
1808- John Dalton

Suggested that all matter was made

up of tiny spheres that were able to
bounce around with perfect elasticity
and called them atoms.
1908- Ernest Rutherford

They fired Helium nuclei at a piece of

gold foil which was only a few atoms
They found that while most of the
helium nuclei passed through the foil,
a small number were deflected.
Rutherford’s new evidence allowed
him to propose a more detailed
model with a central nucleus.
He proved that nucleus is small,
dense and positively charged.
1913- Niels Bohr

Bohr refined Rutherford's idea by

adding that the electrons were in
Rather like planets orbiting the
With each orbit only able to
contain a set number of electrons.
 An atom is the smallest building block of
 Each atom has a similar structure.
 Present concept is based on Rutherford & Bohr.
 This provides a simple picture of the atom.
 Atoms are made of neutrons, protons and
 The nucleus of an atom is extremely small in
comparison to the atom.
• Protons—(+)ve charge in the nucleus
• Neutrons —no charge in the nucleus
• Electrons—(-)ve charge around the nucleus

• The nucleus is composed of protons and neutrons

(called nucleons) and the nuclear strong force keeps
these particles together.
• This force is only effective at very small distances.
• Protons and neutrons are composed of still smaller
particles called quarks.
• Electrons are not composed of quarks and cannot be
Radius of atom 10 -10 m
Radius of nucleus 10 -14 m

 Atoms are composed of a small, dense, positively

charged nucleus surrounded by negatively charged
 An atom contains more that 99 percent of empty
 Roughly, the diameter of the nucleus is only about
1/10,000 of the diameter of the atom.
 All electrons are identical in mass and charge
 Normal atoms have the same number of protons as
The Nucleus
 The nucleus is composed of protons and neutrons
(called nucleons) and the nuclear strong force keeps
these particles together.
 This force is only effective at very small distances.
 Protons and neutrons are composed of still smaller
particles called quarks.
 Electrons cannot be subdivided (not composed of
 Mass of electron = 0.00054858 amu = 9.10940 x10-31 kg
Mass of neutron = 1.008665 amu = 1.67495 x10-27 kg
Mass of proton = 1.007277 amu = 1.6726 x10-27 kg
Size of Nuclei

The number of neutrons tends to closely follow the number

of protons. Atoms with more of each are bigger and heavier.
 Atoms are the smallest particles of an element that can
exist without loosing the chemical properties of the
 Atom is electrically neutral.
 H is the simplest atom. The lightest element on the
periodic table. A hydrogen atom contains one proton
and one electron. Therefore, the mass of this element
is 0.00054858 amu + 1.007277 amu = 1.00782558amu

 The difference between the atoms of different

elements are the No: of electrons circling round their
nuclei and in the weight and (+)ve charge of these
Maintaining Neutrality
Most atoms are electrically neutral, meaning that they
have an equal number of protons and electrons.

A schematic model of a
lithium (Li) atom in the
ground state.
It has 3 protons in the
nucleus, and
3 electrons in orbit.
 Molecules are the smallest particles of a
compound that can exist without loosing the
chemical properties of the compound.
 Molecules are combination of atoms.
eg: H2O
The Bohr Model of the Atom:
In the Bohr model electrons
travel in circular orbits called
energy levels around the Electrons
nucleus. Nucleus
 The potential energy of the electron is negative due
to its attraction for the nucleus and gets more
positive as the electron gets farther away from the
 These orbits are restricted (quantized) and electrons
can only go from one energy level to another energy
level. Each electron has a “home” or ground state.
 To move to an another orbit, it must either give off
energy or absorb energy.
Avogadro Constant
 6.023 x 1023 hydrogen atoms have a mass of
1 g. This means that the mass of one
hydrogen atom must be 1/(6.023 x 1023) of a
 A mole of hydrogen atom has 6.023 x 1023
hydrogen atoms.
 Similarly, 2 g of hydrogen, that would be two
"Avogadro constant's worth", in other words
2 moles of hydrogen atoms.
Atomic mass unit (amu)

Charge of the proton = 1.602 x 10 -19 coulomb

Avogadro constant = 6.023 x 1023

1 amu = 1/12 of the mass of an atom of 12C

1 amu = 1 x 0.012
12 6.023 x 10 23
1 amu = 1.66 x 10 -27 kg
Particle symbol electric charge mass(amu)
Proton P +1 1.007277
Neutron n 0 1.008665
Electron e, e-, β- -1 0.000548
Positron e+, β+ +1 0.000548
Neutrino ν, νe 0 >1/8000 of e
Mu mesons μ+ +1 207 m0
μ- -1 207 m0
Pi mesons π+ +1 273 m0
π- -1 273 m0
π0 0 273 m0
The neutrino is a very small particle with practically no
mass no charge.
Interact with protons
νe + P → n + β +

Mu mesons are produced indirectly by the interaction of

very high energy particles with matter.
These particles are unstable and decay spontaneously,
μ+ → e+ + 2 ν
μ- → e- + 2 ν
Mean life of the particle is 2.15 x 10 -6 s
Pi mesons are produced by the bombardment of matter
with high energy protons or photons.
The charged π mesons decay
π + → μ+ + ν
π - → μ- + ν
Mean life is 10 -15 s
Neutral π meson decay with 2 photons.
Photon :
 no mass

 no charge

 Travel at speed of light

 not a particle but a bundle of energy (but act as a

particle for many interactions
Atomic No:
• The atomic No: of an element is the No: of
protons in the nucleus of an atom of that
Mass No:
• The mass No: of an atom is the total No: of
protons and neutrons in the nucleus.
• Atoms with a specific number of protons and
neutrons in the nucleus.
(e.g., atoms with 6 protons and 6 neutrons are one
nuclide while atoms with 7 protons and 8 neutrons
are a different nuclide).
A nuclide is a particular variety of atom characterized
by a given atomic No: and mass No:
The maximum No: of electrons
in an orbit is given by 2 n 2

 In each atom the outer most or valence shell is

concerned with the chemical, thermal, optical and
electrical properties of the element.
 Chemical properties of an atom are determined by
the atomic No:
 The chemical behavior of any substance is
controlled by its electrons and their orbital
 Normal atom is electrically neutral
 To escape an electron from an atom it must acquire
enough energy (more than binding energy)
 Become (+)ve ion

 Insufficient energy to remove an electron from
 Electron moves towards the outermost shell
 It will revert quickly to its normal orbit.
Periodic Table
 Periodic Table is used to find out important
information about various elements.
 The periodic table is a chart that categorizes
elements by "groups" and "periods."
 All elements are ordered by their atomic
 The atomic number is the number of protons
per atom. In a neutral atom, the number of
electrons equals the number of protons.
Periodic Table
SI Prefixes
Multiple Prefix Symbol
10-12 pico p
10-9 nano n
10-6 micro µ
10-3 milli m
10-2 centi c
10-1 deci d
10 deca da
102 hecto h
103 kilo k
106 mega M
109 giga G
1012 tera T
 Isotopes are atoms which have the same
atomic number but different mass numbers.
They have the same number of protons but
different numbers of neutrons.
 But, being the same element they have the
same atomic or proton number and are
identical chemically.
The number of neutrons in an atom can vary
within small limits. For example, there are three
kinds of carbon atom 12C, 13C and 14C.

Protons neutrons mass number

carbon-12 6 6 12
carbon-13 6 7 13
carbon-14 6 8 14
These different atoms of carbon are called isotopes.
 The three isotopes of hydrogen with mass numbers of
1, 2 and 3, with 0, 1 and 2 neutrons respectively.

 Hydrogen-1 is the most common, there is a trace of

hydrogen-2 (sometimes called deuterium) naturally
but hydrogen-3 (sometime called tritium) is very
unstable and is used in atomic bombs - nuclear fusion
Stable and unstable nuclides
Isotopes of Cobalt
Too many
54 Co, 55 Co, 56 Co, 57 Co,
for stability 27 27 27 27
58 Co, 59 Co, 60 Co, 61 Co
27 27 27 27
62 Co, 63 Co, 64 Co
Too many
27 27 27
for stability
Stable isotope - 59 Co
 EM radiation is a combination (cross product)
of oscillating electric and magnetic fields
perpendicular to each other, moving through
space as a wave, effectively transporting
energy and momentum.
 EM radiation is quantized as particles called
 The EM radiation consists of radiowaves.
microwaves, IR, visible, UV, X-rays, and
gamma rays.
 The waves of energy are called
electromagnetic (EM) because they have
oscillating electric and magnetic fields.
 They are classified by their frequency or
 For a wave with a high frequency, it has a lot
of energy, so it could be a gamma ray or x-ray.
 If it has low frequency, it has less energy and
could be a TV or radio wave.
 The behavior of EM radiation depends on its
 Higher frequencies have shorter
wavelengths, and longer wavelengths have
lower frequencies.
 When EM radiation interacts with single
atoms and molecules, its behavior depends
on the amount of energy per quantum it
 EM radiation in a vacuum always travels at
the speed of light.
What is radiation?
 Radiation is the transfer of energy in the form
of particles or waves.
 X-rays are electromagnetic radiation.
Electromagnetic radiation is a form of pure
energy which is carried by waves of photons.
 Visible light, Radio and X-rays are all forms of
EM radiation which vary in energy and thereby
wavelength and frequency.
 When an electrically charged particle
undergoes a deceleration, energy is radiated
by the particle in the form of EM radiation.
Electromagnetic (EM) Radiation
 EM radiation is emitted in discrete units
called photons.
 EM radiation can be created by the
oscillation or acceleration of electrical
charge or magnetic field.
 EM radiation consists of an oscillating
electrical and magnetic field which are at
right angles to each other and spaced at a
particular wavelength.
Albert Einstein theorized that the speed of
light is the fastest that anything can travel. So
far he has not been proven wrong.
» Wave length (λ) is the distance between two
consecutive (+)ve or (-)ve peaks.
» Frequency (ν) is the number of cycles of the
wave which pass a fixed point per second.
» Velocity (c) is the distance travelled forward
per second by a point on the wave.
 The Speed of Light;
 In a vacuum, all EM radiation travels at the
same speed: 2.99792458×108 m/s, known as
c, the speed of light.
c = ν λ = 3.00×108 m s-1
 Higher frequency includes ultraviolet (UV)
rays, X-rays, and gamma rays.
 Lower frequency includes infrared (IR)
radiation, microwaves, and radio waves.
The EM Spectrum
 Long wavelength radio > 600 m
 Broadcast radio band 600 - 200 m
 Microwave 200 m - 0.1 mm
 Infrared 0.1 - 0.0007 mm
 visible (light) 0.7 - 0.4 µm
 Ultraviolet 0.4 µm - 1 nm
 X-rays 1 nm - 0.1 pm
 Gamma rays < 0.1 nm
The Electro-Magnetic Spectrum
 A spectrum is a range of different frequencies of
 Radio Waves - these waves have the lowest
frequency and the longest wavelength. They are
the safest of all the electro-magnetic waves.
 Microwaves - these have a slightly higher frequency
than radio waves.
Applications: Satellite communication, cooking food
 Infra Red Radiation - with an higher frequency than
Applications : night vision cameras, remote controls
in the modern world.
 Visible Light - our eyes are able to detect the tiny
range of frequencies in this part of the electro-
magnetic spectrum.
 Ultra Violet Radiation - this has a higher
frequency than visible light - and our eyes
cannot detect it.
 X-Rays - as the frequencies of the electro-
magnetic radiation get higher, and the
wavelengths shorter, so they become more
dangerous to living cells.
 Gamma Rays - these are very high energy and
are hazardous to living cells.
Ionizing Radiation
 X-ray radiation contains more
energy than ultraviolet,
infrared, radio waves,
microwaves or visible light.
 X-ray radiation has sufficient
energy (> 34 eV) to cause
 An ionization is a process
whereby the radiation removes
an electron from an atom.

Ionizing Non-ionizing

Directly ionizing Indirectly ionizing

(charged particles) (neutral particles)
electrons, protons, etc. photons, neutrons
High frequency electromagnetic waves and
energetic particles that can produce
ionizations are called ionizing radiations.
Examples of ionizing radiation include:
• alpha particle radiation
• beta particle radiation
• neutrons
• gamma rays
• x-rays
Nonionizing radiations are not energetic
enough to ionize atoms and interact with
materials in ways that create different hazards
than ionizing radiation.
Examples of nonionizing radiation include:
• microwaves
• visible light
• radio waves
• TV waves
• ultraviolet light
Inverse Square Law
• The intensity of the radiation from a point
source varies inversely as the square of the
distance from the source, provided that there
is no absorption or scattering by the medium.

I ∞ 1 / d2
Wave Theory
• In classical electromagnetic theory, light was
pictured as purely a wave phenomenon, with
an energy that was continuously variable.
– The wave model explains phenomena such as
refraction, diffraction, etc.
(that don’t make sense by treating light as a
• Classical physics was unable to explain the
variation in radiation emitted at different
Particle Theory
• In particle theory light is considered as a
shower of particles, each having an energy of
– The particle model explains blackbody
radiation and the photoelectric effect, that
don’t make sense by treating light as a wave.
• It is now known that in addition to behaving
as waves, light can also behave as small
Quantum Theory
• The energy is emitted only in discrete amounts,
or quanta (singular, quantum).
• Each change in the energy of the atoms in a
heated substance results from the gain or loss
of these “packets” of energy. The amount of
energy, E, associated with each quantum of
energy is given by the Planck equation:
E = hν
h = Planck’s constant = 6.626×10-34 J s

Light and Matter

Wave particle duality — that is, some properties of
each are best described with a wave model, and some
properties are best described by a particle model.

Electromagnetic radiation
Visible light, infrared radiation, ultraviolet light, radio
waves, microwaves, X-rays, and gamma rays are types of
electromagnetic (EM) radiation, which consist of energy
propagated by electric and magnetic fields that are
perpendicular to each other, and that alternately increase
and decrease in intensity as they move through space.
Quantum Theory
• The wave and particle concept were
combined by Plank into one theory.
• Quantum Theory recognizes the dual nature
of EM radiation.
1.EM radiation is propagated through space in
the form of waves and carrying energy from
one place to another.
2.The particle concept is used to describe the
interactions between radiation and matter.

Wilhelm Roentgen discovered x-rays in 1895, while

studying the behavior of cathode rays. (A cathode ray
tube is a vacuum tube in which a cathode, or negatively
charged electrode, sends out a stream of electrons.).
X-rays revolutionized medicine because they enabled
doctors to see inside the body without surgery.
Taking an X-ray image with early Crookes
tube apparatus

X-rays are in form of radiation that is potentially dangerous.

Exposure to excessive x or gamma radiation is harmful to
human beings. The most dangerous part of the instrument
is the direct X-ray beam. So, care should always be taken to
know the exact path of the incident beam.
X-rays and gamma rays
 Gamma rays are produced in nuclear transformations,
such as radioactive decay.
 A gamma ray is a packet of electromagnetic energy (a
photon). Gamma rays (gamma photons) are emitted
from the nucleus of some unstable (radioactive)
 x-rays are produced when fast moving electrons are
suddenly stopped by striking on a metal target.
X-rays are produced by two processes:
1. Deceleration of fast moving electrons
2. Movement of an electron between two inner shells in
an atom.
Properties of EM radiation
1. They all travel with the same velocity in free space.
(3 x 108 ms-1)
2. In free space they all travel in straight lines.
3. Electromagnetic waves have no mass.
4. All transfer energy from place to place in quanta.
5. When passing through matter, intensity is reduced
due to attenuation (absorption and scattering)
6. All EM radiation obey the inverse square law in free
Properties of x-rays
1. Fluorescence
X-rays produce fluorescence in materials such as
CaWO4 ,Zncds and CsI.
This effect produces the visible pattern seen on
the screen in x-ray fluoroscopy and intensifying
2. Photographic effect
X-rays produce a latent image on photographic
film which can be developed to give a visible
image. Density of blacking is due to amount of
Ag released.
3. Penetration
They are invisible to humans. X-rays penetrate
substances that are opaque to visible light.
they are differentially absorbed or scattered
by different media.
4. Ionization and Excitation
When x-rays pass through medium they
produce ionization and excitation of the atoms
and molecules.
5. Chemical changes
X-rays produce chemical changes
FeSO4 → Fe2 (SO4)3
6. Biological effects
X-rays produce biological effects in living
organisms either by direct of indirect action.
The cell can be either damaged or killed.
The organism can be injured or killed or genes
can undergo mutations.
Luminescent materials which emit light as a result of x-
1. Phosphorescent materials.
The light emission is continuous even after the x-ray
2. Fluorescent materials
The emission of light starts immediately with the x-
rays commences and stops instantaneously with the
termination of exposure.
3. Thermoluminescent materials
Light emission is associated with heating. After
irradiation by x-rays, some materials emit light
photons only if heated to a high temperature.
• In science, we say that energy is the ability
to do work.
• We need energy to do all the things we do.
• Energy causes things to happen around us.
• Reading a book needs energy.
Light Energy:
Anything that is luminous gives off light energy.
Things such as candles, bulbs and the sun give
off light energy.

Kinetic Energy
This is energy due to movement.
Anything that moves possesses kinetic energy.
Gravitational Potential Energy
This is energy due to position above the ground.
When something is lifted up it gains
energy. An aeroplane and a snow boarder
can fall and have potential energy.

Sound Energy
Sound energy is produced by a vibrating object.
Sound energy from a radio or a guitar travels in
waves to your eardrum.
Electrical Energy:
When an electric current flows, there is electrical
A current flowing in a circuit can provide energy to
power a computer.

Chemical Energy:
Batteries, foods and fuels store energy which can be
produced in a chemical action.
Our bodies are able to release energy from food in a
chemical process which involves oxygen.
Heat Energy:
Above a temperature of absolute zero everything has
heat energy.
A flask of hot water has more heat energy than a flask of
cold water because the molecules are moving more

Elastic Energy:
When anything is stretched it has elastic energy.
Stretching the rubber of a slingshot allows energy to be
stored, which can be used to cast the shot. Energy
stored in the rubber band of a toy plane can make it
Energy and photons
Each photon carries a small amount of energy
with it.
The amount of energy depends on the frequency
E = hν, where h = 6.63 ×10-34 J s
c = 3 x 10 8 ms-1
E = hc / λ
E = 6.63 x 10 -34 x 3 x 10 8 x 10 10 = 12.4 / λ
1,602 x 10 -16 x λ
Energy and matter
 The fundamental laws of physics include the
conservation of the total energy of a given system.
 The energy unit, in the International System of Units is
the joule (J), but because this quantity is too large when
applied to particle energies, the electron volt (eV) is
often used instead.
 This unit, representing the energy acquired by an
electron accelerated through a potential difference of 1
V, is such that: