Monte Carlo simulation of electron beams from an accelerator head using PENELOPE

J. Sempau, A. Sánchez-Reyes, F. Salvat, H. Oulad Ben Tahar, S. B. Jiang, J. M. Fernández-Varea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

184 Scopus citations


The Monte Carlo code PENELOPE has been used to simulate electron beams from a Siemens Mevatron KDS linac with nominal energies of 6, 12 and 18 MeV. Owing to its accuracy, which stems from that of the underlying physical interaction models, PENELOPE is suitable for simulating problems of interest to the medical physics community. It includes a geometry package that allows the definition of complex quadric geometries, such as those of irradiation instruments, in a straightforward manner. Dose distributions in water simulated with PENELOPE agree well with experimental measurements using a silicon detector and a monitoring ionization chamber. Insertion of a lead slab in the incident beam at the surface of the water phantom produces sharp variations in the dose distributions, which are correctly reproduced by the simulation code. Results from PENELOPE are also compared with those of equivalent simulations with the EGS4-based user codes BEAM and DOSXYZ. Angular and energy distributions of electrons and photons in the phase-space plane (at the downstream end of the applicator) obtained from both simulation codes are similar, although significant differences do appear in some cases. These differences, however, are shown to have a negligible effect on the calculated dose distributions. Various practical aspects of the simulations, such as the calculation of statistical uncertainties and the effect of the 'latent' variance in the phase-space file, are discussed in detail.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1163-1186
Number of pages24
JournalPhysics in medicine and biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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