Detection of gamma photons using solution-grown single crystals of hybrid lead halide perovskites


The decay of the majority of radioactive isotopes involves the emission of gamma (γ) photons with energies of 50 keV to 10 MeV. Detectors of such hard radiation that are low-cost, highly sensitive and operate at ambient temperatures are desired for numerous applications in defence and medicine, as well as in research1,2. We demonstrate that 0.3–1 cm solution-grown single crystals (SCs) of semiconducting hybrid lead halide perovskites (MAPbI3, FAPbI3 and I-treated MAPbBr3, where MA = methylammonium and FA = formamidinium) can serve as solid-state gamma-detecting materials. This possibility arises from a high charge-carrier mobility–lifetime (μτ) product of 1.0–1.8 × 10−2 cm2 V−1, a low dark carrier density of 109–1011cm−3 (refs 3,4), a low density of charge traps of 109–1010 cm−3 (refs 4,5) and a high absorptivity of hard radiation by the lead and iodine atoms. We demonstrate the utility of perovskite detectors for testing the radiopurity of medical radiotracer compounds such as 18F-fallypride. Energy-resolved sensing at room temperature is presented using FAPbI3 SCs and an 241Am source.

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Figure 1: MAPbI3 perovskite SCs for gamma detection.
Figure 2: MAPbI3 SC integrated in a γ quanta counting detector.
Figure 3: Realization of a HPLC set-up with a MAPbI3 perovskite SC γ quanta counting detector.
Figure 4: Energy resolution with 3 mm FAPbI3 perovskite SCs.

Change history

  • 03 August 2016

    In the version of this Letter originally published online, in the sentence beginning 'A combined benefit of the reduced defect density...', ref. 21, instead of ref. 18, should have been cited. This has now been corrected in all versions of the Letter.


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M.V.K. acknowledges financial support from the European Union through the FP7 (ERC Starting Grant NANOSOLID, GA No. 306733). We are indebted to S. Ametamey, B. Mancosu and S. Boss of the Center for Radiopharmaceutical Sciences of ETH for providing access to the radiochemistry laboratory and technical assistance, M. Badertscher for providing radioactive sources, M. Wörle for assistance with X-ray sources, and N. Stadie for reading the manuscript.

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M.V.K. and S.Y. conceived and planned the work. S.Y., Y.S. and D.K. performed measurements of the response of perovskite SCs to γ and X-rays. S.Y. analysed the result. D.N.D., V.M., I.C. and O.N grew the perovskite SCs. T.N. provided technical advice for radiation experiments. M.V.K. supervised the work. S.Y. and M.V.K. wrote the manuscript. All authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript.

Correspondence to Maksym V. Kovalenko.

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Yakunin, S., Dirin, D., Shynkarenko, Y. et al. Detection of gamma photons using solution-grown single crystals of hybrid lead halide perovskites. Nature Photon 10, 585–589 (2016).

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