Development of calorimeter based dosimeters for medical applications

Through simulations and experimental research, the project will investigate the design and development of a calorimeter based commercial device for reference measurements made in advanced radiotherapy modalities.

Start date
1 October 2020
3 years
Application deadline
Funding information

The studentship is fully funded (University fees and student stipend) by the University of Surrey.

Stipend: ~£15,000/year

Funding source
University of Surrey.
Supervised by


Radiation Dosimetry is a key process in clinical practice to ensure patients’ safety during diagnostic and therapeutic applications of ionising radiation, particularly for radiotherapy cancer treatment.  Radiation dosimetry refers to the measurement, calculation and assessment of the ionising radiation dose absorbed by the human body. Accurate dosimetry in radiotherapy is essential to eradicate a cancer, whilst minimising the risk of severe side effects due to the unavoidable irradiation of healthy tissues and organs. In radiotherapy, ionisation chambers are used to ensure that the dose delivered from a therapy unit is what is intended. The ionisation chambers used for radiotherapy are called "reference dosimeters", which are used to measure absorbed dose. A chamber will have a calibration factor established by a national standards laboratory such as NPL in the UK, or will have a factor determined by comparison against a transfer standard chamber traceable to national standards at the user's site.  Current reference level ionisation chambers have not been optimised for newer treatment modalities in mind. The NPL are proposing the use of calorimeter based devices for reference measurements made in these modalities; these devices would need to be portable and able to be used in the clinical setting. Calorimetry is the best technique for absolute and direct measurement of absorbed dose. It is based on the measurement of the temperature rise of a given volume element of this instrument when it is exposed to a source of radiation.

The NPL and the University of Surrey are proposing a joint PhD to design a device for use in small fields including mini and micro beams, grid fields and scanned pencil proton beams. This project would involve designing and building a prototype calorimeter for testing offsite in various advanced treatment modalities in use around the world. The successful candidate would require both strong practical and computational skills.

The project is a collaboration between the University of Surrey (Radiation and Medical Physics Group) and the National Physical Laboratory.

Industrial supervisor: Russell Thomas, NPL

Eligibility criteria

UK or EU applicants who hold a First or 2:1 UK honours degree in a relevant subject area, or a 2:2 alongside a good masters degree (a distinction is usually required).

The studentship is available to UK or EU candidates.

If English is not your first language, you will be required to have an IELTS Academic of 6.5 or above (or equivalent), with no sub-test score below 6.

How to apply

Applications can be made through our Physics PhD course page.

Please state the project title and supervisor clearly on all applications.

Please mentioned “FEPS sponsored (clinical calorimeter)” in your applications.

Application deadline: 28 August 2020 or when suitable candidate is found.

Application deadline

Contact details

Prof. Rebecca Nutbrown

+44 (0)1483 464888


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