Medical linear accelerators are among the most complicated and expensive medical devices used in healthcare today. Operating under similar physical principles as high energy accelerators used for particle physics research, medical accelerators must also be configured and reduced in size and scale to be practical in a hospital environment. The process for learning how to maintain and service these devices can be lengthy due to the physical complexity of the device, and the layers of knowledge that are required to understand the different systems that make up the machines. As well, since the medical linac is configured to specific operating points, any adjustments must be done very carefully to ensure that the machine does not change it’s clinical configuration or that harm may come to the unit if the electron beam deviates from its specific path.
SIMAC is a medical linac simulator that simulates the basic physical operating principles of the linear accelerator. It models the electron beam acceleration process and steering to the target as well as modelling the bremsstrahlung photons created in the target. It simulates beam peaking or tuning, beam steering as well as beam flatness. It is web based and can be used to understand the operating principles of a linear accelerator without accessing a real machine. It also comes with a series of lessons, laboratory like exercises and quiz assessments so that the learner can study linac operating principles and theory at their own pace. It is designed to allow a new linac service technician to gain sufficient knowledge of the accelerator so that they understand the basic operating theory and have a good feeling for how different components of the accelerator interact with each other.
This presentation will give an overview of the SIMAC simulator and learning environment, and how they are used to teach linear accelerator functionality.