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NE 162

Course Title: 
Radiation Biophysics and Dosimetry
Course Units: 
Catalog Description: 
  • Interaction of radiation with matter; physical, chemical, and biological effects of radiation on human tissues; dosimetry units and measurements; internal and external radiation fields and dosimetry; radiation exposure regulations; sources of radiation and radioactivity; basic shielding concepts; elements of radiation protection and control; theories and models for cell survival, radiation sensitivity, carcinogenesis and dose calculation.
Course Prerequisite: 
  • Physics 7C: Electromagnetic Waves, Physical Optics, Relativity, and Quantum Mechanics
  • E 77: Introduction to Computer Programming for Scientists and Engineers or Previous Experience with Matlab
  • NE 101: Nuclear Reactions and Radiation (Recommended)
Prerequisite Knowledge and/or Skills: 
  • Working knowledge of Matlab
  • General understanding of quantum mechanics
  • Chemical interactions between atoms
Course Objectives: 
  • provide students with an elementary background in the basic physical and biological factors governing radiation effects in man and with practical means for assessing and controlling the radiation doses expected from various radiation fields.
  • introduce students to the ways of characterizing radiation fields and to the mechanisms by which radiation interacts with matter.
  • introduce students to physical, chemical and biological effects of radiation on humans and tissue. Describe radiation damage to DNA in a cellular environment, theories and models for cell survival, stochastic and non-stochastic effects of radiation on humans.  Specific emphasis will be placed on the description and effect of cosmic radiation on astronauts.
  • introduce students to radiation dosimetry quantities and units; external and internal exposure standards and limits.
  • describe how the basic radiation detection and monitoring instrumentation work.
  • introduce students to basic radiation shielding calculations.
Course Outcomes: 
  • determine radiation exposure by calculation or measurement.
  • understand the short and long term effects of exposure to specific radiation fields.
  • determine the required shielding to reduce exposure to allowable levels.
  • generate and analyze cell survival curves.
  • understand one hit and multi-hit survival models.
  • determine relationships between different forms of radiation based on their interaction with tissue.
  • create mathematical models to simulate cellular response to radiation
Topics Covered: 
  • Introduction. History of radiation.
  • Atomic and nuclear structure. Radioactivity. Sources of radiation. Interaction of radiation with matter and parameters associated with energy deposition in water. Interaction of charged particles, X and gamma rays, and neutrons with matter. Energy transfer.
  • Characterization of radiation fields. Radiation dosimetry. Dosimetry units. Exposure, external and internal contamination. Kerma, LET. Dose-response characteristics. Dose limitations and radiation protection criteria and standards.
  • Chemical and biological effects of radiation. Radiation chemistry of aqueous solutions. Radiation chemistry of DNA solutions. Radiation damage to DNA in a cellular environment. Theories and models for cell survival. Radiation induced cell mutations. Radiation induced cell-sensitivity.  Radiation induced carcinogenesis. Non-stochastic and stochastic effects of radiation.
  • Principles of radiation shielding calculation.
  • Introduction to radiation detection and detectors. The Bragg-Gray principle in absorbed dose measurements. Dosimeters and radiation monitors.
  • Cosmic radiation on astronauts: description and effects.
  • Introduction to industrial and medical (diagnostic and therapeutic) applications of radiation.
Textbook(s) and/or Other Required Materials: 
  • J. Turner, "Atoms, Radiation, and Radiation Protection," John Wiley&Sons, Inc. (1995)
  • E. L. Alpen, "Radiation Biophysics," Academic Press (1998)
Class/Laboratory Schedule: 
  • This is primarily a lecture course, meeting three times a week for 50-minute lectures.  However, the last month of the course will be dedicated to the development of an artificial cell system in silico under the Matlab platform.  This program will be used to predict the effect of radiation on cell-killing under different conditions such as cell repair abilities, cell-cycle, and cell-cell communication (bystander effect).  During this period, lectures will consist of lab time. 
Contribution of Course to Meeting the Professional Component: 
  • This course contributes primarily to the students' knowledge of engineering topics, and does provide design experience.
  • Students are required to work on homework sets that include examples of shielding and dose distribution calculations.
  • Students will learn basic methodology to perform research in the field of radiation biology.
Relationship of Course to Degree Program Objectives: 
  • This course tailors to both Bioengineers and Nuclear Engineers.  The information below describes how the course contributes to the undergraduate program objectives.
  • This course contributes to the NE program objectives by providing education in a fundamental area of interaction of radiation with human tissue, determination of exposure by measurement and calculation, determination of effects of radiation on humans, and calculation of shielding designs for radiation protection. It does not provide students with direct design experience, but includes substantial discussion and illustration of design issues.
  • Concurrently, this course contributes to the BioE program objectives: it contains biological (B) and clinical (C) content and fulfills the design (D) requirement for bioengineers.  In addition, the course satisfies a core requirement for Radiological Bioengineers. 
Assessment of Student Progress Toward Course Objectives: 
  • Homework problem sets: 20%
  • Project:  20%
  • Two Midterm Exams:  30%
  • Final Exam: 30%