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Fluorescent Nanoparticles for Radiation DetectionFluorescent Nanoparticles for Radiation Detection

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

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Technology Marketing Summary

Researchers at ORNL invented a promising material for more efficient nanoscale
scintillators, or radiation detectors. The new material, which can detect most kinds
of radiation, consists of fluorescent nanoparticles embedded in a transparent matrix.
The invention addresses needs in research, security, and industry for detectors with
improved light output and higher detection efficiency. The technology offers high
count rate capability and better time resolution.



Scintillators emit light upon absorbing ionizing radiation. The ORNL invention uses
nanoparticles to produce fluorescence on exposure to radiation. These particles
are placed in a transparent matrix to maximize the fraction of light they emit. The
scintillator can be customized for specific applications by tailoring the nanoparticles for
particular wavelengths, quantum yields, and fluorescence decay times. Multiple layers
of matrix and nanoparticles can be structured for different functions.

The nanoparticles are made from materials that include lithium oxide, lithium
carbonate, lithium phosphate, lithium silicates, lithium aluminates, and lithium
zirconates. For gamma ray spectroscopy, materials of high atomic number can be
doped in the matrix.

  • Superior light emission intensity, emission decay times, high count rate capabilities, emission wavelengths, and counting efficiency for scintillators
  • Offers a competitive edge over existing survey instruments used at reactors, hospitals, and research facilities

Applications and Industries
  • Neutron scattering research
  • Gamma ray spectroscopy in nuclear medicine imaging techniques
  • Neutron and gamma detection of concealed nuclear materials
  • Survey instruments at reactors, reactor facilities, and hospitals
More Information

Sheng Dai, Andrew C. Stephan, Steven A. Wallace, Suree Saengkerdsub, and Hee-Jung Im, Composite Nanoparticle/Transparent Matrix Structures for Radiation Detection, U.S. Patent Application 10/940,054, filed September 14, 2004.

Lead Inventor
Sheng Dai
Chemical Sciences Division
Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Patents and Patent Applications
ID Number
Title and Abstract
Primary Lab
Patent 7,857,993
Composite scintillators for detection of ionizing radiation
Applicant's present invention is a composite scintillator having enhanced transparency for detecting ionizing radiation comprising a material having optical transparency wherein said material comprises nano-sized objects having a size in at least one dimension that is less than the wavelength of light emitted by the composite scintillator wherein the composite scintillator is designed to have selected properties suitable for a particular application.
Y-12 National Security Complex 12/28/2010
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated

Contact ORNL About This Technology

To: Jennifer Tonzello Caldwell, Ph.D.<>