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Lehrack, S.; Assmann, W.; Bender, M.; Severin, D.; Trautmann, C.; Schreiber, J.; Parodi, K. (2020): Ionoacoustic detection of swift heavy ions. In: Nuclear Instruments & Methods in Physics Research Section A-Accelerators Spectrometers Detectors and Associated Equipment, Vol. 950, 162935
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The maximum energy loss (Bragg peak) located near the end of range is a characteristic feature of ion stopping in matter, which generates an acoustic pulse, if ions are deposited into a medium in adequately short bunches. This so-called ionoacoustic effect has been studied for decades, mainly for astrophysical applications, and it has recently found renewed interest in proton therapy for precise range measurements in tissue. After detailed preparatory studies with 20 and 21 MeV protons at the MLL tandem accelerator, ionoacoustic range measurements were performed in water at the upgraded SIS18 synchrotron of GSI with U-238 and Xe-124 ion beams of energy about 300 MeV/u, and C-12 ions of energy about 200 MeV/u using fast beam extraction to get pulses of around 1 mu s length. Acoustic signals were recorded in axial geometry by standard piezo-based transducers at a 500 kHz mean frequency and evaluated in both the time and frequency domains. The resulting ranges for the different ions and energies were found to agree with Geant4 simulations as well as previous measurements to better than 1%. Given the high accuracy provided by ionoacoustic range measurements in water and their relative simplicity, we propose this new method for stopping power measurements for heavy ions at GeV energies and above. Our experimental results clearly demonstrate the potential of an ionoacoustic particle monitor especially for very intense heavy ion beams foreseen at future accelerator facilities.