Positron kinetics in an idealized PET environment

Robert Robson, Michael Brunger, Steven Buckman, Gustavo Garcia, Zoran Petrović, Ronald White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)
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The kinetic theory of non-relativistic positrons in an idealized positron emission tomography PET environment is developed by solving the Boltzmann equation, allowing for coherent and incoherent elastic, inelastic, ionizing and annihilating collisions through positronium formation. An analytic expression is obtained for the positronium formation rate, as a function of distance from a spherical
source, in terms of the solutions of the general kinetic eigenvalue problem. Numerical estimates of the positron range - a fundamental limitation on the accuracy of PET, are given for positrons in a model of liquid water, a surrogate for human tissue. Comparisons are made with the ‘gas-phase’ assumption used in current models in which coherent scattering is suppressed. Our results show that this assumption leads to an error of the order of a factor of approximately 2, emphasizing the need to accurately account for the structure of the medium in PET simulations.
Original languageEnglish
Article number12674
Number of pages9
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 6 Aug 2015


  • positron emission tomography (PET)
  • modeling
  • Boltzmann equation
  • liquid water
  • positronium formation


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