Carbon nanotube (CNT) is a new technology used to generate gamma photons in X-ray tubes. CNTs, in comparison to other small X-ray sources, produce high X-ray intensities and as they are not based on a thermionic principle they considered cold electron sources with a very high conversion of electrical to photon energy. Their small size and other interesting properties could make them feasible for use in intraoperative radiation therapy applications. In this study, physical characteristics of the photon beam generated by the CNT-based X-ray source were assessed. A soft X-ray ionization chamber and a flat panel detector was used to measure dose and photon counts, respectively. The repetitively produced pulses had almost the same photon intensities with differences of less than 1% between them. For a typical selected pulse, the variation in the pulse amplitude was also insignificant, which shows a stable radiation exposure of the tube during the ON-mode. When moving from the center of the beam profile to the lateral distance of 25 mm, both intensity profile and dose profile showed a falling trend by a factor of almost 3 in the measured values.
We also tested the miniature tube with our novel radiation beam shaping collimator designed for a possible application to treat larynx tumor, which showed the possibility of interventional radiation therapy using this miniature source. An endoscopic camera attached to the system can also make it possible to optically visualize the radiation exposed area.
In conclusion, CNT-based X-ray source with suitable attached collimator to shape the beam of the source, seems to provide an opportunity to deliver radiation to a desired tumor area in minimally invasive image guided medical procedures mainly in the normal cavities of the body.