Acoustic Modulation Enables Proton Detection With Nanodroplets at Body Temperature

Sophie V. Heymans*, Gonzalo Collado-Lara, Marta Rovituso, Hendrik J. Vos, Jan D'hooge, Nico De Jong, Koen Den Van Abeele

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
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Superheated nanodroplet (ND) vaporization by proton radiation was recently demonstrated, opening the door to ultrasound-based in vivo proton range verification. However, at body temperature and physiological pressures, perfluorobutane nanodroplets (PFB-NDs), which offer a good compromise between stability and radiation sensitivity, are not directly sensitive to primary protons. Instead, they are vaporized by infrequent secondary particles, which limits the precision for range verification. The radiation-induced vaporization threshold (i.e., sensitization threshold) can be reduced by lowering the pressure in the droplet such that ND vaporization by primary protons can occur. Here, we propose to use an acoustic field to modulate the pressure, intermittently lowering the proton sensitization threshold of PFB-NDs during the rarefactional phase of the ultrasound wave. Simultaneous proton irradiation and sonication with a 1.1 MHz focused transducer, using increasing peak negative pressures (PNPs), were applied on a dilution of PFB-NDs flowing in a tube, while vaporization was acoustically monitored with a linear array. Sensitization to primary protons was achieved at temperatures between 29 °C and 40 °C using acoustic PNPs of relatively low amplitude (from 800 to 200 kPa, respectively), while sonication alone did not lead to ND vaporization at those PNPs. Sensitization was also measured at the clinically relevant body temperature (i.e., 37 °C) using a PNP of 400 kPa. These findings confirm that acoustic modulation lowers the sensitization threshold of superheated NDs, enabling a direct proton response at body temperature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2028-2038
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported in part by the European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program under Grant 766456 ("AMPHORA") and in part by the Dutch Research Council under Grant NWA 1160.18.095. (Sophie V. Heymans, Gonzalo Collado-Lara, Nico de Jong, and Koen Van Den Abeele contributed equally to this work.)

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 IEEE.


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