The linac accelerator (linac) - medical & other applications (video)

Source: Ionactive Radiation Protection Resource

A video from some years ago (2008) - but still stands the test of time. In fact, as far as we know this was the first of its kind. Since then the big players in linac technology have produced other video resources, which are excellent. Radiation protection training resource of this type still has significant value and so is offered again with audio and visual optimisation. This resource covers how the linac works, from electron gun to electron target. The basic principles of the described linac will also be similar to those used in cargo screening, industrial irradiation and industrial radiography. 

Notes on this video

In order to produce the accelerations required for linac equipment a whole host of complicated techniques are employed (as compared to a conventional x-ray generator) – meaning that the engineering required is significant. The linac (linear accelerator) is a form of particle accelerator whereby the particles are accelerated in a linear fashion (i.e. a long a straight line). In some uses such as medical / sterilisation applications, the charged particles (usually electrons) impinge directly on the target material undergoing ‘treatment’ (e.g. skin / product). In other applications, including some types of screening facilities, the accelerated electrons impact on a target which produces the required high energy x-rays – much in the same way as occurs at the anode end of an x-ray tube.  As the resulting x-rays are much higher energy than those produced in conventional x-ray tubes their penetration is far greater. For the medical applications in this featured video, whilst the electrons can be used for treatment, the usual mode of operation is to produce x-rays via a tungsten target and then use a multi-leaf tungsten collimator to carefully and accurately direct the beam to the area of treatment.  

Back in 2008 Ionactive commissioned Grallator (Dr Chris Robbins) to produce some animated video resource for Ionactive - to be used in our face to face radiation protection training. This linac video was posted on YouTube at a resolution suitable for 2008. It was in two parts as there was a maximum length of video at that time. As of 2024 it  has received 170,000 views with absolutely no promotion.

During 2008 there was very little similar resource, and to our knowledge this "how does a linac resource work" was quite unique. Ionactive showed this resource to one of its clients (who make linacs) and positive comments were received!  Naturally time moves on and that same company (still a client of Ionactive) went on to produce a stunning "how does a linac work" type video in 2010, (Google / YouTube is your friend). We like to think that Ionactive (and naturally Grallator) were somewhat instrumental in promoting resource of this type early on. 

Despite its age, this 2008 video on linear accelerators stands the test of time and we believe is still excellent radiation safety training resource.  This is now hosted on our Vimeo platform with no adverts, better resolution and optimised audio. We hope you liked the video. 

If you start from nothing, it is very difficult to get anywhere

– Gerhard Herzberg -