The detection of ionising radiation is critical for a wide range of technological and scientific applications, from medical diagnostics, nuclear monitoring and national security to high energy physics. Typically, detection is performed using scintillator materials that emit light upon interaction with ionising radiation, which is then collected by highly sensitive photodetectors.
In recent years, lead halide-based perovskite nanocrystals have emerged as nanoscintillators due to their ability to interact with X-rays and gamma rays, producing intense scintillation light. However, the use of these materials is limited by the cost of production and the difficulty of encapsulating them without damage in polymer matrices to produce compact and manageable nanocomposite scintillators.
The research carried out in the laboratories of Prof. Sergio Brovelli's group, together with research groups from the Department of Materials Science of the University of Milano-Bicocca, ENEA, the Italian Institute of Technology, CNR, CERN and ESRF, has addressed these critical issues by producing large scintillating composites based on CsPbBr3 nanocrystals encapsulated in plastic matrices. The nanocrystals were achieved by exploiting a novel, highly scalable, low-temperature chemical synthesis technique followed by encapsulation in acrylic matrices, which increases the luminescence efficiency by up to almost 100%. The materials have demonstrated exceptional resistance to gamma radiation equivalent to the amount absorbed by the inner walls of a nuclear reactor in one year, high scintillation efficiencies comparable to commercially available plastic scintillators, and an ultra-fast response time, making these materials particularly promising for applications in medical diagnostics and high energy physics.
The results of this work are reported in the article “Ultrafast and Radiation-Hard Lead Halide Perovskite Nanocomposite Scintillators” (DOI: 10.1021/acsenergylett.3c01396) published in the prestigious journal ACS Energy Letters (Impact Factor 23.99 Journal Citation Report (Clarivate Analytics, 2023)).