A series of studies of "ideal" beams has been carried out using Monte Carlo simulation with the goal of providing guidance for the design of epithermal beams for boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT). An "ideal" beam is defined as a monoenergetic, photon-free source of neutrons with user-specified size, shape and angular dependence of neutron current. The dosimetric behavior of monoenergetic neutron beams in an elliptical phantom composed of brain-equivalent material has been assessed as a function of beam diameter and neutron emission angle (beam angle), and the results are reported here. The simulation study indicates that substantial differences exist in the dosimetric behavior of small and large neutron beams (with respect to the phantom) as a function of the extent of beam collimation. With a small beam, dose uniformity increases as the beam becomes more isotropic (less collimated); the opposite is seen with large beams. The penetration of thermal neutrons is enhanced as the neutron emission angle is increased with a small beam; again the opposite trend is seen with large beams. When beam size is small, the dose delivered per neutron is very dependent on the extent of beam collimation; this does not appear to be the case with a larger beam. These trends in dose behavior are presented graphically and discussed in terms of their effect on several figures of merit, the advantage depth, the advantage ratio, and the advantage depth-dose rate. Tables giving quick summaries of these results are provided.

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