Accuracy of the electron transport in mcnp5 and its suitability for ionization chamber response simulations: A comparison with the egsnrc and penelope codes

Hanna Koivunoro (Corresponding Author), Teemu Siiskonen, Petri Kotiluoto, Iiro Auterinen, Eero Hippeläinen, Sauli Savolainen

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview Articlepeer-review

    19 Citations (Scopus)


    Purpose: In this work, accuracy of the mcnp5 code in the electron transport calculations and its suitability for ionization chamber (IC) response simulations in photon beams are studied in comparison to egsnrc and penelope codes. Methods: The electron transport is studied by comparing the depth dose distributions in a water phantom subdivided into thin layers using incident energies (0.05, 0.1, 1, and 10 MeV) for the broad parallel electron beams. The IC response simulations are studied in water phantom in three dosimetric gas materials (air, argon, and methane based tissue equivalent gas) for photon beams (60Co source, 6 MV linear medical accelerator, and mono-energetic 2 MeV photon source). Two optional electron transport models of mcnp5 are evaluated: the ITS-based electron energy indexing (mcnp5ITS) and the new detailed electron energy-loss straggling logic (mcnp5new). The electron substep length (ESTEP parameter) dependency in mcnp5 is investigated as well. Results: For the electron beam studies, large discrepancies (>3) are observed between the mcnp5 dose distributions and the reference codes at 1 MeV and lower energies. The discrepancy is especially notable for 0.1 and 0.05 MeV electron beams. The boundary crossing artifacts, which are well known for the mcnp5ITS, are observed for the mcnp5new only at 0.1 and 0.05 MeV beam energies. If the excessive boundary crossing is eliminated by using single scoring cells, the mcnp5ITS provides dose distributions that agree better with the reference codes than mcnp5new. The mcnp5 dose estimates for the gas cavity agree within 1 with the reference codes, if the mcnp5ITS is applied or electron substep length is set adequately for the gas in the cavity using the mcnp5new. The mcnp5new results are found highly dependent on the chosen electron substep length and might lead up to 15 underestimation of the absorbed dose. Conclusions: Since the mcnp5 electron transport calculations are not accurate at all energies and in every medium by general clinical standards, caution is needed, if mcnp5 is used with the current electron transport models for dosimetric applications.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1335-1344
    JournalMedical Physics
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012
    MoE publication typeA2 Review article in a scientific journal


    • dosimetry
    • EGSNRC
    • MCNP
    • Monte Carlo


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