Efficient, fast and reabsorption-free perovskite nanocrystal-based sensitized plastic scintillators


The urgency for affordable and reliable detectors for ionizing radiation in medical diagnostics, nuclear control and particle physics is generating growing demand for scintillator devices combining efficient scintillation, fast emission lifetime, high interaction probability with ionizing radiation and mitigated reabsorption losses in large-volume/high-density detectors. To date, the simultaneous achievement of all such features is still an open challenge. Here we realize this regime with poly(methyl methacrylate) nanocomposites embedding CsPbBr3 perovskite nanocrystals as sensitizers for a conjugated organic dye featuring a large Stokes shift and a fast emission lifetime in the red spectral region. Complete energy transfer from the nanocrystals to the dye under both X-rays and α-particle excitation results in highly stable radioluminescence with an efficiency comparable to that of commercial-grade inorganic and plastic scintillators; an ~3.4 ns emission lifetime, competitive with fast lanthanide scintillators; and reabsorption-free waveguiding for long optical distances.

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Fig. 1: Concept and applications of reabsorption-free, fast and efficient perovskite-based plastic scintillators.
Fig. 2: High-Z sensitization experiments.
Fig. 3: Scintillation performance and stability of perovskite-based plastic scintillators.
Fig. 4: Waveguiding experiments on perovskite-based sensitized plastic scintillators.


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We gratefully acknowledge financial support from the Italian Ministry of University and Research (MIUR) through the grant Dipartimenti di Eccellenza-2017 ‘Materials For Energy’, from the Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (INFN) through the ESQUIRE project and from EU-H2020 through the EIT SPARK project (grant no. 16290). L.M. acknowledges funding from the programme for research and innovation Horizon 2020 (2014–2020) under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Grant Agreement COMPASS no. 691185.

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M.F. and S.B. conceived this study. M.G., I.M. and L.M. synthesized and characterized the nanocrystals. L.B. and M.S. synthesized the dye. M.G. and F.C. produced the nanocomposites. M.G., E.F. and M.L.Z. performed the optical characterization and waveguiding experiments. I.V. performed the radioluminescence measurements under the supervision of M.F. and A.V.; M.B., C.G., C.B. and L.G. performed the scintillation and waveguiding measurements with α-particles. M.G. performed the Monte Carlo simulations. S.B. wrote the paper in consultation with all authors.

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Correspondence to Mauro Fasoli or Luca Gironi or Sergio Brovelli.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Peer review information Nature Nanotechnology thanks Christophe Dujardin and the other, anonymous, reviewers for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Extended data

Extended Data Fig. 1 Control nanocomposites with CsPbCl3 nanocrystals.

a. Optical absorption (dashed lines) and photoluminescence (solid lines) of CsPbCl3 NCs (blue lines) and 1 (red lines) in toluene under 385 nm excitation. b. Time decay traces of the photoluminescence of CsPbCl3 NCs in PMMA nanocomposites (2.0 wt%) in the absence (blue line) and in the presence of 0.155 wt% of 1 (purple line). c. Radioluminescence spectra of PMMA nanocomposites embedding 2.0 wt% of CsPbCl3 NCs (blue line), 0.155 wt% of 1 (red line) or a CsPbCl3:1 blend (2.0 wt% and 0.155 wt% respectively, purple line) under X-ray irradiation (30 kV, 20 mA). Source data

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Gandini, M., Villa, I., Beretta, M. et al. Efficient, fast and reabsorption-free perovskite nanocrystal-based sensitized plastic scintillators. Nat. Nanotechnol. (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41565-020-0683-8

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