The Polish Secondary Standard Dosimetry Laboratory is part of the IAEA/WHO network of such laboratories. The SSDLs are usually not equipped with accelerators generating high energy electron beams for calibration of dosimeters. The access to medical accelerators is seriously limited due to the heavy patient load. Therefore attempts are made to use Co-60 beams for calibration of plane parallel chambers and calculate the calibration coefficients for other radiation quality, the high energy electron beam.
The Markus ionization chambers, most frequently used in Poland, were analyzed in this study. The material was composed of 36 plane parallel chambers, from 20 radiotherapy centers in Poland, calibrated at the Polish SSDL during the period of 2003-2006. Before actual calibration, a number of chamber parameters were tested: long term stability, dark current, chamber sensitivity, non-linearity of dosimeter readings. Each chamber was calibrated in two different radiation beams: a) Varian 2300 accelerator 22 MeV electron beams, beam output 1.2 cGy/MU at 300 MU/min; b) Co-60 Theratron 780/403 unit with a Cobalt-60 source of 155700 GBq (4208 Ci) activity as of 6.01.2006. A reference dosimeter Keithley Instruments Inc. 6517-A with cylindrical ionization chambers Nuclear Enterprises Technology Limited type 2571 was used as the reference standard. The methods of IAEA Code of Practice for Dosimetry TRS 398 were adopted. The long term stability was analyzed on basis of calibration coefficients of 23 Markus chambers calibrated several times during the period 1994-2002.
Very small differences in calibration coefficients were detected between the two calibration methods used. They ranged between -0.3 to +0.5%, the mean value being 0.1%. A very good long term stability of calibration coefficients of Markus chambers, related to the mean value over the 7 year period, ranging between -0.5 to +0.3%, was recorded.
Very small differences in the results for the two calibration methods, confirmed by small standard deviations observed, indicate that these two calibration methods in the case of Markus-type plane parallel chambers may be used alternatively.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.