February 5, 2023

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Science, New Radiation Detectors: The Bicocca-Ina-Cnr Axis

Highly scalable radiation detector based on perovskite nanoparticles Useful for applications in sectors such as energy, aerospace, and medical diagnostics and is able to interact with high-energy radiation in an efficient and durable manner and counteract the very high levels of radioactivity found within nuclear reactors and large particle accelerators. It is the new result of collaboration between University of Milano-Bicocca, Enea, Institute of Electronics and Magnetic Materials (Imem) of the National Research Council (Cnr) and Jiao Tong University in Shanghai. The fruit of the joint effort of the research groups of the Department of Materials Sciences of the University of Milano-Bicocca led by Sergio Profili and Anna Vidathe work was published today on Nature photonics with the address “Intense radiation hardness and high luminescence yield in perovskite nanocrystals”.
The detection of ionizing radiation, such as X-rays, gamma rays, or elementary particles such as neutrons, is of fundamental importance in a wide number of technological and scientific applications, from national and industrial security to high energy physics and control for nuclear power plants, from space exploration to medical imaging diagnostics, Where this type of radiation is the basis for diagnostic tests such as Tac and Pet. In the course of activities related to gamma ray tests, Enea has dispatched Calliope’s facility From the Casaccia Research Centre. Unique in Europe in the field of qualification and study of the radiation resistance of biological materials, components and systems to hostile environments, Calliope has made it possible to perform tests up to extremely high absorbed doses, with very precise dosimetric control. For these technologies, there is a need for radiation detectors that can be easily developed on large volumes at low cost, efficient and time-stable even in conditions of high radioactivity. Think, for example, of large particle accelerators, where radiation levels are too high for humans to reach. The ability to maintain high detection efficiency in such exorbitant conditions is the basis for the operational duration of experiments that have led to exciting discoveries about the origin of the universe. The same applies to investigations of deep space exploration and the development of a new generation of nuclear reactors that require continuous and careful monitoring in environments with hostile radioactivity levels. Materials that emit light flash when interacting with x-raysor gamma rays or other particles. In order for the scintillator to meet the efficiency, resistivity, and scalability characteristics required by these technological fields, it is necessary that the active material be composed of heavy elements that have a high probability of reacting with radiation, such as lead, and that it can be used for a long time with maximum efficiency. It is very difficult to achieve these properties using commercial scintillators based on massive monolithic crystals. Luminescence devices based on innovative nanomaterials provide access to these targets and represent the latest frontier in the detection of ionizing radiation. Among them, lead halide perovskites are ideal candidates for radiation detection. However, to date, their potential has been severely limited by concerns that high-energy radiation might damage their characteristic “soft” structure. Based on the cross-sectional knowledge found in Division Sciences some materials From the University of Milano-Bicocca, scientists have demonstrated that lead halide perovskite nanoparticles maintain luminescence efficiency under extreme conditions, comparable to radiation levels accumulated over an entire year by the inner walls of a nuclear reactor or inside the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva. This discovery opens the door for nanotechnology to develop high-performance detectors for frontier studies in nuclear physics and for applications in contexts inaccessible using conventional methods. “Perovskite nanoparticles are very promising materials for the detection of ionizing radiation,” explains Sergio Profelli, Full Professor of Experimental Physics at Bicocca, “because they have the right chemical composition, high luminescence efficiency, mass production potential, low cost. And with targeted properties; aspects that cannot be achieved using common crystal scintillators.” However, to date nothing is known about the resistance of these materials to high levels of radiation and no strategies have been identified to improve them. He continues: “First of all.” Matthew Zavalon researcher in the Department of Materials Science – together with our partners in Shanghai, we have developed chemical strategies that allow us to create flashes with efficiencies comparable to commercial materials.” We found the perfect maintenance of its optical and structural properties,” he continues. Francis Cova Co-researcher in the study. “Currently, nano-oscillators based on these materials are being studied for high-energy physics experiments at CERN in Geneva and for radiometric applications in hostile environments,” concludes Anna Vida, director of the Milano-Bicocca Department of Materials Science.

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