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News

Ethernet I/O modules run cyclotron control system for neutron radiotherapy

Acromag : 21 September, 2014  (Application Story)
A Scanditronix MC-50 compact cyclotron was installed at the UW Medical Center in 1983. Its primary purpose is the production of fast neutrons (via 50.5 MeV protons on beryllium) for fast neutron radiotherapy. The original UWCC control system was run on a DEC PDP-11 with a custom centralised I/O system built around the Z80 processor and chipset. Ethernet is now used as part of the upgrade.
Ethernet I/O modules run cyclotron control system for neutron radiotherapy

In 2007 was begun the process of upgrading the control system, moving to a distributed system developed with the open source Experimental Physics and Industrial Control System (EPICS) toolkit. 


 


On the hardware side, Robert Emery, senior principal research engineer, went with distributed PCs running Debian Linux and Ethernet as the fieldbus. While the majority of devices could b e upgraded to GPIB or RS-232 control and use gateways to get them on the network, this was not feasible for the larger, custom magnet power supplies. For these are being used Acromag BusWorks 900EN Series devices; also EtherStax ES2000 Series digital devices at the back end of the custom HMIs.


 


Development and integration with the Acromag Ethernet devices was straightforward, using existing ModTCP support modules and standard tools such as Wireshark. Acromag Ethernet devices have been running in the control system since 2008, treating patients 8 hours/day, 4 days/week, and have been found to be extremely reliable.


 


This type of external beam radiotherapy is best suited for head and neck solid tumours, specifically adenoid cystic carcinoma of the salivary glands. 


 


There are presently two fast neutron radiotherapy facilities worldwide, one in Seattle at the UW Medical Center and the other at iThemba labs in Cape Town, South Africa. In addition to the protons used for fast neutron therapy, UWCC is able to accelerate other particles at variable energies due to its variable frequency RF system and dual ion source chimneys. This makes it ideal for medical isotope research, including isotopes such as 211At, 186Re, and 117mSn being developed to target and treat metastatic and disseminated disease at the cellular level.

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