Gold nanoparticles for tumor detection with proton radiography: Optimizing sensitivity and determining detection limits

Rachel B. Sidebottom, Ethan F. Aulwes, Matthew S. Freeman, Per E. Magnelind, Frank E. Merrill, Achraf Noureddine, Reed Selwyn, Rita Serda, Dale Tupa, Yirong Yang, Michelle Espy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Proton radiography is a promising imaging technique that can be used to improve the treatment plan quality for proton therapy, by providing accurate estimates of proton stopping power. While a proton radiograph has accurate information about proton stopping power, it also has an inherently low tissue contrast for diagnostic purposes, as compared to X-ray imaging. The nature of energetic, massive protons as a radiographic probe is that they require a high-Z tracer to provide sufficient proton scatter in order to delineate target structures. Gold nanoparticles could be that ideal tracer due to a Z = 79, and their biocompatibility. Here the detection thresholds for gold-nanoparticle targeted tumors are evaluated using instantaneous, 800-MeV proton radiography, at the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center. Data is compared against MRI data in pre-clinical mouse models with 4T1 tumors directly injected with gold nanoparticle solution. The proton radiography system is then optimized using novel collimation schemes, including a dark field proton radiographic setup, that aimed to increase sensitivity and reduce dose. Results evaluated here are extrapolated to 211-MeV proton radiographic energy, to compare against expectations at clinical treatment energies. At that lower energy, proton radiography is moresensitive to the multiple Coulomb scattering introduced by a high-Z tracer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationColloidal Nanoparticles for Biomedical Applications XVI
EditorsMarek Osinski, Antonios G. Kanaras
ISBN (Electronic)9781510641532
StatePublished - 2021
EventColloidal Nanoparticles for Biomedical Applications XVI 2021 - Virtual, Online, United States
Duration: Mar 6 2021Mar 11 2021

Publication series

NameProgress in Biomedical Optics and Imaging - Proceedings of SPIE
ISSN (Print)1605-7422


ConferenceColloidal Nanoparticles for Biomedical Applications XVI 2021
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityVirtual, Online


  • Dark field proton radiography
  • Gold nanoparticles
  • Proton radiography
  • Proton therapy
  • Tumor assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biomaterials
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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