The aim of this study was to examine the effect of submillimeter air gaps that may exist between an ionization chamber and solid phantoms when measurements are performed in a magnetic field.Methods
Geant4 Monte Carlo simulations were performed using a model of a PTW 30013 Farmer chamber in a water phantom. Symmetrical and asymmetrical air gaps of various thicknesses were modeled surrounding the chamber, and the dose to the air cavity of the chamber was scored in each case. Magnetic fields were modeled parallel to the long axis of the chamber with strengths of 0, 0.35 T, 1.0 T, and 1.5 T. To examine the phenomenon in more detail, the gyroradii of the electrons responsible for the energy deposited in the chamber were scored as they entered the chamber and the total energy deposited was split into three components: energy originating from inside the chamber, in the immediate vacinity of the chamber, or outside the chamber.Results
Differences in the chamber dose of 1.6% were observed for asymmetric air gaps just 0.2 mm thick. No effect greater than 0.5% was observed for the symmetrical air gaps investigated in this work (1.4 mm thick or less) for this chamber/magnetic field configuration. The mean gyroradius of contributing electrons as they first enter the chamber was 4 mm. The presence of the air gap reduced the energy contributions from electrons released in the immediate vicinity of the chamber, and this loss was not completely compensated for when a magnetic field was present.Conclusions
The gyroradius of most electrons was too large to be responsible for the air gap effect via the electron return effect; instead, the effect is attributed to the loss of energy contributions from electrons originating inside the air gap volume, which is not completely compensated for by more distant electrons owing to their reduced range in the magnetic field. When the chamber is parallel with the magnetic field, symmetric air gaps have a smaller effect (< 0.5%) compared to asymmetric air-gaps (up to 1.6%) on the chamber response.