The applicability of the activation of an NaI scintillator for neutron monitoring at a clinical linac was investigated experimentally. Thermal neutron fluence rates are derived by measurement of the I-128 activity generated in an NaI scintillator irradiated by neutrons; β-rays from I-128 are detected efficiently by the NaI scintillator. In order to verify the validity of this method for neutron measurement, we irradiated an NaI scintillator at a research reactor, and the neutron fluence rate was estimated. The method was then applied to neutron measurement at a 10-MV linac (Varian Clinac 21EX), and the neutron fluence rate was estimated at the isocenter and at 30 cm from the isocenter. When the scintillator was irradiated directly by high-energy X-rays, the production of I-126 was observed due to photo-nuclear reactions, in addition to the generation of I-128 and Na-24. From the results obtained by these measurements, it was found that the neutron measurement by activation of an NaI scintillator has a great advantage in estimates of a low neutron fluence rate by use of a quick measurement following a short-time irradiation. Also, the future application of this method to quasi real-time monitoring of neutrons during patient treatments at a radiotherapy facility is discussed, as well as the method of evaluation of the neutron dose.
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