Monte Carlo study of secondary electron production from gold nanoparticle in proton beam irradiation

Jeff Gao, Yuanshui Zheng


Purpose: In this study, we examined some characteristics of secondary electrons produced by gold nanoparticle (NP) during proton beam irradiation.

Method: By using the Geant4 Monte Carlo simulation toolkit, we simulated the NP at the range from radius (r) of 17.5 nm, 25 nm, 35 nm to r = 50 nm. The proton beam energies used were 20MeV, 50MeV, and 100MeV. Findings on secondary electron production and their average kinetic energy  are presented in this paper.

Results: Firstly, for NP with a finite size, the secondary electron production increase with decreasing incident proton beam energy and secondary buildup existed outside NP. Secondly, the average kinetic energy of secondary electrons produced by a gold NP increased with incident proton beam energy. Thirdly, the larger the NP size, the more the secondary electron production.

Conclusion: Collectively, our results suggest that apart from biological uptake efficiency, we should take the secondary electron production effect into   account when considering the potential use of NPs in proton beam irradiation.


Cite this article as: Gao J, Zheng Y. Monte Carlo study of secondary electron production from gold nanoparticle in proton beam irradiation. Int J  Cancer Ther Oncol 2014; 2(2):02025.



Gold nanoparticle; Secondary electron production; Proton

Full Text:



Herold DM, Das IJ, Stobbe CC, et al. Gold microspheres: a selective technique for producing biologically effective dose enhancement. Int J Radiat Biol 2000; 76: 1357-64.

Hainfeld JF, Slatkin DN, Smilowitz HM. The use of gold nanoparticles to enhance radiotherapy in mice. Phys Med Biol 2004; 49: N309-15.

Cho SH. Estimation of tumour dose enhancement due to gold nanoparticles during typical radiation treatments: a preliminary Monte Carlo study. Phys Med Biol 2005; 50: N163-73.

Sharma P, Brown S, Walter G, et al. Nanoparticles for bioimaging. Adv Colloid Interface Sci 2006; 123-126: 471-85.

Shim SY, Lim DK, Nam JM. Ultrasensitive optical biodiagnostic methods using metallic nanoparticles. Nanomedicine (Lond) 2008; 3: 215-32.

Skrabalak SE, Au L, Lu X, et al. Gold nanocages for cancer detection and treatment. Nanomedicine (Lond) 2007; 2: 657-68.

Regulla D, Schmid E, Friedland W, et al. Enhanced values of the RBE and H ratio for cytogenetic effects induced by secondary electrons from an X-irradiated gold gurface. Radiat Res 2002; 158: 505-515.

Rudd ME, Kim YK, Madison DH, et al. Electron Production in Proton Collisions: Total Cross Sections. Rev Mod Phys 1985; 57:965-94.

Rudd ME, Kim YK, Madison DH, et al. Electron production in proton collisions with atoms and molecules: energy distributions. Rev Mod Phys 1992; 64: 441-90.

Uehara S, Toburen LH, Nikjoo H. Development of a Monte Carlo track structure code for low-energy protons in water. Int J Radiat Biol 2001; 77:139-54.

Zhang SX, Gao J, Buchholz TA, et al. Quantifying tumor-selective radiation dose enhancements using gold nanoparticles: a monte carlo simulation study. Biomed Microdevices 2009; 11: 925-33. [Accessed date: March 1, 2008 ]

Chithrani BD, Ghazani AA, Chan WC. Determining the size and shape dependence of gold nanoparticle uptake into mammalian cells. Nano Lett 2006; 6: 662-8.

Chithrani BD, Chan WC. Elucidating the mechanism of cellular uptake and removal of protein-coated gold nanoparticles of different sizes and shapes. Nano Lett 2007; 7:1542-50.

El-Sayed IH, Huang X, El-Sayed MA. Surface plasmon resonance scattering and absorption of anti-EGFR antibody conjugated gold NPs in cancer diagnostics: application in oral cancer. Nano Lett 2005; 5: 829-34.

Hillyer JF, Albrecht RM. Gastrointestinal persorption and tissue distribution of differently sized colloidal gold nanoparticles. J Pharm Sci 2001; 90:1927-36.

Agostinelli S, Allison J, Amako K, et al. Geant4-a simulation toolkit. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment. 2003; 506: 250-303.

Allison J, Amako K, Apostolakis J, et al. Geant4 developments and applications. Nuclear Science, IEEE Transactions on 2006; 53: 270-8. [Accessed date: February 1, 2014 ]

ICRU report 55. Secondary electron spectra from charged particle interactions. International commission on radiation units and measurements, Bethesda Maryland, 1996.

Polf JC, Bronk LF, Driessen WH, et al. Enhanced relative biological effectiveness of proton radiotherapy in tumor cells with internalized gold nanoparticles. Appl Phys Lett 2011; 98:193702.

Jarklskog CZ, Paganetti H. Physics settings for Using the Geant4 Toolkit in Proton Therapy. Nuclear Science, IEEE Transactions on 2008; 55: 1018-25.


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.


International Journal of Cancer Therapy and Oncology (ISSN 2330-4049)

© International Journal of Cancer Therapy and Oncology (IJCTO)

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the '' domain to your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.


Number of visits since October, 2013