The transfer of energy from ionizing radiation to matter involves a series of steps. In wide ranges of their energy spectra photons and neutrons transfer energy to an irradiated medium almost exclusively by the production of charged particles which ionize and thereby produce electrons that can ionize in turn. The examination of these processes leads to a series of intermediate quantities. One of these is kerma, which has long been employed as a measure of the energy imparted in the first of the interactions. It depends only on the fluence of uncharged particles and is therefore-unlike absorbed dose and electron fluence-insensitive to local differences of receptor geometry and composition. An analogous quantity for charged-particle fields, cema (converted energy per unit mass), is defined, which quantifies the energy imparted in terms of the interactions of charged particles, disregarding energy dissipation by secondary electrons. Cema can be expressed as an integral over the fluence of ions times their stopping power. However, complications arise when the charged particles are electrons, and when their fluence cannot be separated from that of the secondaries. The resulting difficulty can be circumvented by the definition of reduced cema. This quantity corresponds largely to the concept employed in the cavity theory of Spencer and Attix. In reduced cema not all secondary electrons but all electrons below a chosen cutoff energy, Δ, are considered to be absorbed locally. When the cutoff energy is reduced, cema approaches absorbed dose and thereby becomes sensitive to highly local differences in geometry or composition. With larger values of Δ, reduced cema is a useful parameter to specify the dose-generating potential of a charged-particle field 'free in air' or in vacuo. It is nearly equal to the mean absorbed dose in a sphere with radius equal to the range of electrons of energy Δ. Reduced cema is a function of the fluence at the specified location at and above the chosen cutoff energy. Its definition requires a modification of restricted linear collision stopping power,$L_{\Delta}$, and it is recommended that the definition of$L_{\Delta}$ be so changed.

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