Effect of source x-ray energy spectra on the detection of fluorescence photons from gold nanoparticles
Manohar, Nivedh Harshan
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X-ray fluorescence is a well-understood phenomenon in which irradiation of certain materials, such as gold, with x-rays causes the emission of secondary x-rays with characteristic energies. By performing computed tomography using these fluorescence x-rays, the material of interest can be imaged inside an object. Our research group has already demonstrated that x-ray fluorescence computed tomography (XFCT) imaging using a typical 110 kVp microfocus x-ray tube is feasible for a small animal-sized object containing a distribution of a solution of low concentration gold nanoparticles. The primary goal of this thesis work was to study the effect of source x-ray energy spectra on gold fluorescence detection using the XFCT system. A computational approach using the Monte Carlo method was used. First, a computational model was created using the Monte Carlo N-Particle (MCNP) transport code based on the experimental setup of the pre-existing XFCT system. Simulations were run to verify the validity of the MCNP model as an accurate representation of the actual system by means of comparison with experimentally-obtained data. Finally, the model was used for further purely computational work. In the MCNP model, the source spectrum was changed to reflect several theoretical and experimentally obtained options. The effect of these changes on gold fluorescence production was documented and quantified using the signal-to-background ratio and other qualitative measures. The results from this work provided clues on how to improve the detection of fluorescence photons from gold nanoparticle-loaded objects using the XFCT system. This will benefit future research on the development of the XFCT system in the context of making it more feasible for gold nanoparticle-based preclinical molecular imaging applications.