Date of Award

August 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Physics and Astronomy

Committee Member

Endre Takacs

Committee Member

Joan Marler

Committee Member

Delphine Dean


Since the advent and swift adoption of x-ray imaging in 1986, the understanding of radiation among the general populace has markedly increased as has the average annual radiation exposure. The biological effects of high doses and high dose-rates, particularly related to x-ray radiation, became a concern of the scientific and medical communities within the same year due to the unregulated use of such imaging. The dangers of these high doses sparked extensive studies, health recommendations, and regulations. However, after it became common practice to use the lowest dose necessary to facilitate medical treatment, the research on the biological effects of low-dose radiation was of less scientific interest. The lack of interest and the difficulty of isolating variables in a complex biological system has led to a lack of high-quality low-dose studies.

The Medical Physics Lab at Clemson University designed an irradiator device to further the understanding of cell responses to low-dose x-ray radiation. It is easily paired with a standard, commercially-available incubator for environmental controls. The combination of x-ray source and $Si$-PIN diode photon detector allows for highly-characterized radiation emission and precise dose and dose rate control. Radiation safety protocols provide necessary shielding for both operator and control groups.

Proof-of-concept experiments on live cell cultures show statistically-significant results for a variety of experimental procedures. The device makes it possible to change the dose rate, total absorbed dose, and photon energy delivering the dose. Overall, it shows promise for more standardized fundamental research into the biological effects of low-dose x-ray radiation.



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