Design studies related to an in vivo neutron activation analysis facility for measuring total body nitrogen
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Design studies relating to an in vivo prompt capture neutron activation analysis facility measuring total body nitrogen are presented. The basis of the design is a beryllium-graphite neutron collimator and reflector configuration for (alpha, n) type radionuclide neutron sources (238PuBe or 241AmBe), so as to reflect leaking, or out-scattered, neutrons towards the subject. This improves the ratio of thermal neutron flux to dose and the spatial distribution of thermal flux achieved with these sources, whilst retaining their advantage of long half-lives as compared to 252Cf based systems. The common problem of high count-rate at the detector, and therefore high nitrogen region of interest background due to pile-up, is decreased by using a set of smaller (5.1 cm diameter x 10.2 cm long) NaI(Tl) detectors instead of large ones. The facility described presents a relative error of nitrogen measurement of 3.6% and a nitrogen to background ratio of 2.3 for 0.45 mSv skin dose (assuming ten 5.1 cm x 10.2 cm NaI(Tl) detectors).
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