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German team makes large computational gains in laser-driven radiation therapy of cancer

Since lasers were first produced in the early 1960s, researchers have worked to apply laser technology from welding metal to surgeries, with laser technology advancing quickly through the last 50 years.

Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy all play important roles in cancer treatment, and sometimes the best successes come from combining all three approaches.

Doctors usually do the most common form of radiation therapy with x-rays, which can penetrate tissue, killing the cancerous cells in deep-seated tumors. Unfortunately, these same x-rays can also damage healthy tissue surrounding the tumor.

Bussmann Simulation Image
Proton density after laser impact on a spherical solid density target: irradiated by an ultra-short, high intensity laser (not in picture) the intense electro-magnetic field rips electrons apart from their ions and creates a plasma. By varying the target geometry and laser properties, scientists could find optimal regimes to accelerate high quality, directed ion beams that are currently studied in accompanying experiments.
Image Credit: Axel Huebl, HZDR, David Pugmire, ORNL.