What is it about?

Scintillators detect ionising radiation by converting energy deposited in them to photons. They are omnipresent in large-scale technical and commercial applications around us. For example, they are found in many branches of physics, security scanners, and medical applications such as nuclear imaging for cancer diagnostics.

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Why is it important?

An ideal scintillator emits a maximum number of scintillation photons per unit energy deposited, has a high absorption coefficient for gamma quanta, and exhibits a narrow timing profile for its scintillation photons. Brighter and faster scintillators facilitate better timing resolution, which is crucial for measuring the time of the initial particle or radiation interaction with high precision. At present, the dominant limitation of modern scintillators is their timing resolution. This limits the imaging resolution of PET scanners that are used for medical cancer imaging.


At lower cryogenic temperatures, perovskite crystals show excellent scintillation properties in terms of signal output and quick response time. Such materials have been sought after for many decades and could dramatically impact the entire scintillation field. Importantly, the concept of cryogenic scintillation is underexplored and novel because established scintillators do not exhibit dramatically improved performance with decreased temperature. Perovskites, however, do and prove to be among the best scintillation materials measured to date. Remarkably, our work uses yet unoptimized crystals and thus it is possible that further improvements will be achieved over time. Operation at lower temperatures is already common for medical applications. Therefore, this work has the potential to trigger a new generation of cryogenic scintillators, as well as providing a new direction for the perovskite field. In particular, perovskites are promising for the medical sector because of the potential for improved cancer diagnostics through an increased imaging resolution, e.g. for early-stage brain cancer.

Michael Saliba
Technische Universitat Darmstadt

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This page is a summary of: Bright and fast scintillation of organolead perovskite MAPbBr3 at low temperatures, Materials Horizons, January 2019, Royal Society of Chemistry,
DOI: 10.1039/c9mh00281b.
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