High-Efficiency and Less Expensive Nanocrystal-Based Scintillator

Period of Performance: 01/01/2007 - 12/31/2007

$100K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Mesolight, LLC
MESOLIGHT, LLC, 4301 W Markham St #831
Little Rock, AR 72205
Principal Investigator

Abstract

Nuclear Physics research has a need for next generation scintillation detectors with high response rates, improved sensitivity, and low production cost. Inorganic scintillators have high output efficiency, but rely on the growth of bulk crystal ¿ a challenging task for most inorganic materials. Due to their relatively low cost and availability as large size sheets, organic scintillators would be ideal for use in applications such as portal monitors and waste monitors; however, their low light output efficiency render them not very suitable for detecting lower energy radiation. This project will develop a new type of scintillator, based upon nanocrystals embedded in transparent polymer matrices. These nanocomposite scintillators would have the advantage of both conventional inorganic materials (i.e. high response rate) and organic materials (i.e. low cost and availability of large size/area sheet). Phase I will develop a nanocrystal/polymer composite; assemble prototype nanocomposite scintillators; and test them with electron, gamma, alpha, and fast neutron sources. Performance will be evaluated by comparison with conventional scintillator materials. Phase II will further optimize the material composition and assemble a fully-functional nanocomposite scintillator detector. Commercial Applications and other Benefits as described by the awardee: In addition to the scientific use in nuclear physics research, the highly sensitive and low cost nanocomposite scintillators should find commercial use in nuclear non-proliferation, homeland defense, medical imaging, X-ray instrumentation, and materials analysis. Another emerging market opportunity is Positron Emission Tomography (PET), a diagnostic medical imaging technique. The market could be as high as $1 billion dollars over the next 10 years for these domains alone.